USWNT Takes Second Match, Splits Series, Against New Zealand
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Another gloomy afternoon saw the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team take on No. 9 New Zealand at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the second match of a two-game series. USA jumped to an early lead and withstood a late Black Sticks’ push to hold on for the 5-4 win.
New Zealand opened the game with the first circle entry, but it was the USA who got on the board first. In the 5th minute off a penalty corner, Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) sent a drag into the bottom corner. Two minutes later, the Black Sticks earned a set piece and a reward after goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) saved Kaitlin Cotter’s drag. On the second attempt, Amanda Golini (Randolph, N.J.) stopped the initial shot and Bing denied the backhand follow up. New Zealand closed the frame with a penalty corner but the scored stayed in favor of USA, 1-0.
Two minutes in to the second quarter, the United Eagles doubled their lead when Hoffman scored on an identical penalty corner play. USA remained on the front foot and Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.) used speed to drive into the circle. She was stopped by New Zealand goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon but Golini was there to follow up with the goal. The Black Sticks added one back in the 25th minute when Megan Hull deflected in a penalty corner shot. As the clock ticked down before the half USA wasn’t done. With 17 seconds to go a great build up led to Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) batting the ball out of the air to make it 4-1.
The opening minutes of the third quarter saw some back and forth action. In the 36th minute, Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) went quickly and earned USA a penalty corner. The straight drag by Hoffman was saved by goalkeeper Kirsten Nation and Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) followed up with a shot. Moments later, USA earned a sequence of penalty corners and on the fourth attempt found the back of the net. It started when Cassie Sumfest’s (Lewisburg, Pa.) drag was stopped, but Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) was on the rebound and dumped it back to Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) who passed it over to Sessa for the finish. New Zealand earned a penalty corner at the end of the quarter, but Bing made the stop on Olivia Merry’s straight shot.
Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) started in goal for USA in the fourth quarter and one minute in, the Black Sticks earned a set piece that she stopped. USA resumed control and started putting New Zealand under more pressure. With 7 minutes to go, Nation stepped out of the goal and it worked to New Zealand’s advantage as they scored 2 minutes later. Rizzo stopped the initial backhand but Hannah Gravenall put the rebound into the net. New Zealand continued to threaten as Merry tallied twice in the 59th and 60th minutes to bring the final score to 5-4.
Today’s contest marked two career milestones. Ally Hammel (Duxbury, Mass.) played in her 50th international cap while Bethany Dykema (Newport News, Va.) registered her first for Team USA.
For more information regarding the 2023 USWNT vs. New Zealand Series, visit the event page.
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