USWNT Claim Pan American Games Silver After Battle with Argentina
SANTIAGO, Chile – It was a 60-minute battle until the very end between the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team and No. 3 Argentina in the gold medal match of the Pan American Games Santiago 2023. Las Leonas struck first and USA responded on penalty stroke just before the half. Tensions started to rise as Argentina pulled ahead midway through the fourth but the United Eagles fought with a late push that fell short, 1-2.
The USWNT claimed their sixth silver medal since the inception of women’s field hockey at the Pan American Games in 1987. They await their placement at an FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier, which will take place in January 2024.
“I’m super proud of the team and how they dug in and stayed in the game for so long,” said David Passmore, USWNT Head Coach, following the game. “That had been the plan and Argentina had started to lose composure until the break in play resulting from the chaos around two cards. Argentina were quick to claim the initiative at that point and we lost the defensive control we had. That said we created some really good attacking play in the last five minutes but lacked accuracy in our two penalty corners.”
“Having been totally outplayed by Argentina last December it is testament to the hard work and rapid development of the squad, not only the 18 here. We have built much more self-belief and will have learned masses from this experience and we come back together soon to start our final preparation for the Olympic Qualifier.”
Having met in pool play, USA knew they had to absorb Argentina’s persistent attack. Las Leonas had their first look in the 2nd minute when a backhand was deflected off a USA defender’s stick, forcing Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) to drop deep into the goal to make the save. Two minutes later, a scary moment for USA when an overhead attempt was picked at the top of the circle by Maria Granatto. Fortunately she couldn’t produce, but Argentina did earn a penalty corner on the resuming play. Unable to find an outcome, Las Leonas earned six more in the period. Alexandra Hammel (Duxbury, Mass.) made a save off the line on one, Bing registered three saves, but in the 12th minute, Agustina Gorzelony scored on a high drag into the net to make it 0-1.
USA opened the second quarter with control but were unable to get a positive circle entry. In the 19th minute Argentina was issued a green card but the United Eagles couldn’t capitalize. For the remainder of the frame, USA contained Las Leonas’ attack – not allowing any penalty corners and saving all shot attempts. It looked like USA would go into the break trailing but with 19 seconds remaining, Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) beat two defenders, got it to Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.) in the circle and as she went to swing was fouled and earned a penalty stroke. After it was referred by Argentina, the call stood and Sessa stepped up and converted for the equalizer.
The third frame started with Argentina getting four shots in two minutes – all that were denied by Bing. Las Leonas kept up their attacking presence and saw a baseline run stopped, hard shot kicked away and a penalty corner chance sail over the goal. On the other end USA put on a high press but couldn’t find an outcome.
With tensions high, the final-15 was a period full of action and physical play. In the 49th minute, double cards were issued when Julieta Jankunas received a 5-minute yellow and Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) a green card. Two minutes later, Argentina found the go-ahead goal when Eugenia Trinchinetti deflected it in. As time ticked down, USA was with an advantage after Granatto was issued a 5-minute yellow and Bing was pulled from the game. Immediately after USA earned a set piece. Unsuccessful on that chance, they kept pushing and with 48 seconds earned another penalty corner.
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