The Puerto Rican Women’s National Team successfully fought off the USA Women’s National Team(WNT) in a much-anticipated showdown at the Pan Am Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday. The game was tied at 19 when the USA was victimized by somewhat shocking back to back 2-minute penalties to stars Jence Rhoads and Sarah Gascon. With the tandem on the bench, Puerto Rico opened up a lead that they would never surrender.
The two rivals have split their last dozen matches and until the back to back penalties, this was looking to be a classic. The USA actually never led in the contest, but continued to fight an uphill battle, tying the recent World Championship participants four times in the first half before falling behind 14-10 at half time. Zoe Lombard led the way with three goals, followed by a pair from Kathy Darling and Julia Taylor. Rhoads, Nicole Andersen, and Gascon each added one.
Puerto Rico opened the second half with two quick goals and the Americans looked to be in real trouble. However, Lombard scored two more quick goals and when Nicole Andersen and Jenifer Fithian added goals, the Americans looked confident and focused. Andersen and Taylor scored again and suddenly the WNT had caught the Puerto Ricans at 16.
The teams exchanged the next three goals with Andersen scoring twice and Lombard scoring again. Tied at 19, fate and referee’s whistles intervened. Puerto Rico scored four straight goals and took a commanding 23-19 lead. Upon their return, Rhoads and Gascon both scored, but the Puerto Ricans matched them.
The USA WNT tried the unusual and risky tactic of pulling the goal keeper so they outnumbered the Puerto Ricans 7-6 with court players, yet goals by Taylor, Andersen, Rhoads, and Ashley Butler, were unfortunately quickly matched by fast attacks leading to empty-net goals for the Puerto Ricans. The result was a win for Puerto Rico in a very important game, 29-25. The USA played tough throughout the game and was backstopped by Sophie Fasold who played well in goal.
Next up for the Americans is Colombia on Wednesday.
Scoring-Andersen (6), Lombard (6), Taylor (4), Rhoads (3), Gascon (2), Darling (2), Fithian (1), Butler (1).