Griffin Zetterberg


USWNT’s Comeback Falls Short in First Match against New Zealand

44 photos

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was a rainy afternoon when the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team hosted No. 9 New Zealand at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the first match of a two-game series. After USA scored first, the Black Sticks tallied three in the third and another in the fourth. The United Eagles fought to get the match within one, but their comeback came up short, as they fell 4-3.

The opening minutes of the first quarter saw equal possession shared by the teams. Midway through, USA generated back-to-back chances but were unable to find a result. The United Eagles opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Brooke DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.) drove the right baseline, pushed it across and it deflected up and off a New Zealand player into the goal. The Black Sticks asked the goal to be reviewed for danger, but they were incorrect and lost their referral. With seconds to go before the end of the quarter, New Zealand gathered a circle entry but to no avail.

USA started the second frame on the front foot with get a circle penetration that was tackled just inside the circle. In the 18th minute, New Zealand earned the first of three penalty corners in a row. The first was well defended by fly Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) and a recovering Amanda Golini (Randolph, N.J.) to not allow a shot. The second set piece hit a USA foot and then on the third, a shot from Megan Hull got through to even the score, 1-1. The United Eagles produced a shot in the 20th minute when great elimination by Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) led to a shot that was saved by New Zealand goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon. The half closed with the match tied at 1-1.

Kealsie Robles (Yorktown, Pa.) checked into the second half in goal. One minute into the third quarter, New Zealand took the lead when Olivia Shannon ripped a shot from the top that deflected in off Robles’ toe. A few moments later the Black Sticks had a shot ring off the post. USA took control down the other way and Sanne Caarls (Niew-Vennep, Netherlands) ran down a through ball and got a low hand backhand shot off that was saved by goalkeeper Kirsten Nation. New Zealand extended their lead in the 41st minute after a penalty corner drag was saved off the line by Ally Hammel’s (Duxburg, Mass.) body giving the Black Sticks a penalty stroke - Olivia Merry converted to make it 3-1. Three minutes later, New Zealand added to the goal margin when Ali Jaques deflected in a penalty corner. The frame closed with USA on the front foot but they couldn’t find a response.

USA upped their pressure at the start of the fourth and their persistence paid off in the 50th minute. The United Eagles won their first penalty corner and Hoffman’s shot hit a New Zealand foot behind the goalkeeper, earning them a penalty stroke. Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) stepped up and scored to make it 4-2. Five minutes later, USA got within one when Megan Valzonis (San Diego, Calif.) got it in the left corner, beat her defender and shot it off her backfoot. Caarls got on the rebound, on Nation’s pads, and reverse tucked it in to make it 4-3. The United Eagles kept fighting but their comeback came up short as they fell 4-3.

The USA women will return to the pitch Sunday, December 10 for game two at 2:00 p.m. ET.

For more information regarding the 2023 USWNT vs. New Zealand Series, visit the event page.

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