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Netherlands Displays Relentless Attack to Top USWNT in FIH Hockey Pro League Opener

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BHUBANESWAR, India – It’s been 213 days since the No. 12 U.S. Women’s National Team competed in the FIH Hockey Pro League and they started by facing a tough opponent in No. 1 Netherlands at Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India. Although USA displayed moments of great defense, they couldn’t withstand the relentless attack of Netherlands as they fell 0-7.

USA opened with the first shot, in the 3rd minute, when Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) transferred it cross field to Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.) who got a backhand off that was saved Netherlands goalkeeper Anne Veenendaal. A minute later, Eva Drummond had a backhand cross along the left baseline that USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) got a boot on. The Oranje followed up with their first shot, a backhand from Yibbi Jansen, that was denied by Bing. Midway through, Zimmer used her speed down the left size, got in the circle and was unable to make anything of it right in front of goal. The United Eagles followed up with a great entry by Amanda Golini (Randolph, N.J.) to Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) but her backhand attempt was defended well. Netherlands capitalized on two late baseline possessions – the first by Luna Fokke and next Pien Dicke – to take a 0-2 lead.

The Oranje maintained control for majority of the second quarter, but USA displayed great collective defense to not allow any more goals. The frame opened with the Netherlands sending a ball to a wide open player in the circle that forced Bing to come out and make the stop. They followed up with a backhand shot by Dicke and a double team defense that shut Frédérique Matla down. In the 26th minute, great patience by the United Eagles when moving forward earned them their first penalty corner after Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) was taken to the turf on a reception. The Netherlands defended the chance and immediately pushed on attack. With 30 seconds to go, the Oranje earned their first penalty corner but to no avail as the score remained unchanged.

To start the third quarter, USA made a goalkeeper switch as Kealsie Robles (Yorktown, Va.) checked into the game. Less than a minute in, the Oranje earned a penalty corner that was well defended by first runner Golini. Jansen followed up with a forehand shot that was saved by Robles. A close chance came for USA in the 33rd minute when Golini threaded a ball to Gonzales in the circle who got a touch on it past her defender and sailed her backhand wide. Two minutes later, a defensive pick by Dicke leads to her firing it into the bottom corner of the goal to bring it to 0-3. Netherlands continued with their relentless attack and added to their lead in the 38th minute when Dicke tallied again after open field passing sequence. The United Eagles produced some attack – collecting a set piece that finished with Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) getting a touch out of the air and Sessa ripping a low angled backhand. Less than a minute to go, Robles absorbed a persistent attack from the Orange, making back-to-back saves, as the quarter closed 0-4.

The Netherlands continued their offensive dominance at the start of the fourth, scoring again off a penalty corner, when Dicke put it in off the post after Robles made the initial save. For periods of time, USA withstood waves of the Oranje’s insistent attack, showcasing solid defense on three more set pieces and a handful of shots. Two unfortunate penalty stroke calls against in the 56th and 58th minutes were both converted by Jansen to bring the final to 0-7.

Following the game, Netherland’s Pien Dicke was named Player of the Match.

The United Eagles are back in action on Tuesday, February 6 when they take on No. 2 Australia at 9:00 a.m. ET. All matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League can be streamed pay-per-view on Watch.Hockey for $5.99.

For more information regarding the 2023-24 FIH Hockey Pro League, visit the event page.

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