USWNT Drops Competitive Contest against China in FIH Hockey Pro League
BHUBANESWAR, India – The No. 12 U.S. Women’s National Team faced No. 9 China in a familiar and competitive FIH Hockey Pro League match-up on Tuesday. A late goal in the fourth quarter was not enough, as the United Eagles dropped their third match of the mini-tournament in Bhubaneswar, India, 1-3.
The first few minutes were marked with a tense, patient energy from both teams. It was China who broke the silence first, earning a penalty corner on their first circle entry and sending a drag flick wide. Just minutes later, China picked off a pass and got a quick reverse shot off that was saved by USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas). Keeping the pressure up, China got on the board when Meirong Zou hit the ball out of the air off a rebound from Bing’s save, making it 0-1 in the 8th minute. China kept up their offense, taking quick free hits and earning several penalty corners that saw the initial shot stopped by Bing. Needing to find consistency in their defensive end, USA settled their passing in the backfield. With 1 minute left to play in the first quarter, Abigail Tamer (Dexter, Mich.) finally broke the attacking circle and earned USA a penalty corner. The shot from Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) was high, giving the ball back to China. Sanne Caarls (Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands) brought it up from the right side for a second look on cage for the United Eagles, but China’s defense was able to clear it out and hold their 0-1 advantage at the end of the frame.
USA kicked off the second quarter with a period of possession, transitioning to a solid press when China did get the ball. China, however, displaying patient skill to get out of their defensive end, transitioned all the way up the field to force Bing to make another save as Karlie Kisha (Hamburg, Pa.) cleared it out right. At the 20-minute mark, Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) connected with Ashley Sessa Schwenksville, Pa.) up the field. The energy was building for USA, as Linnea Gonzales (Bel, Air, Md.) looked to send a ball in from the right that found no one. A USA turnover in the midfield gave China the chance to strike, as they executed a pass to Dan Wen who tipped it in on the post. The goal put China up 0-2, a lead they kept for the 3 minutes remaining in the half.
As they did with their first two matches, USA opted to substitute Kelsie Robles (Yorktown, Va.) in goal for the second half. Dribbling with skill up the field, Zimmer earned a second set piece opportunity for USA, where Cassie Sumfest’s (Lewisburg, Pa.) shot was saved and a rebound attempt from Sessa sailed wide. A subsequent turnover by USA gave China a nice look on cage that was taken care of by Robles. After some time on defense, China picked up their pace and had two more shots that were stopped by Robles. For the first time since the opening frame, China found themselves with a penalty corner, which was deflected high and out. Breaking up the opponent's attack, Grega picked off a pass in the midfield in what looked like a fast break for the United Eagles – one that eventually led to an attacking penalty corner. USA scored but the goal from Sumfest was overturned due to an off ball foul within the circle. An early breakaway in the circle from Dan Wen ended in a third goal for China, despite a strong effort to tackle back from Kisha.
Down 0-3 with just 15 minutes to play, the red, white and blue needed to create offensive opportunities – which Sessa heard, earning USA a set piece. The shot was stopped by China’s goalkeeper, leaving USA buzzing with frantic energy. In the 53rd minute, Caarls forced an obstruction to gain USA another attacking penalty corner, where Sumfest’s shot was deflected onto the top post. The second ensuing corner was sent wide, giving China’s defense a reprieve. The United Eagles earned yet another set piece, but the chance ended in a ball deflected wide. Not long after, USA was lining up around the circle yet again, and this time the chance paid off. Sumfest dragged the ball straight to the left post, garnering her first international goal, and putting USA on the board, trailing 1-3. The United Eagles’ late effort would not be enough to overcome China, as they fell 1-3.
Following the game, China’s Dan Wen was named Player of the Match.
Today’s contest marked a career milestone for USA athlete Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.), who played in her 50th international cap.
The United Eagles will play their fourth and final game of the mini-tournament in Bhubaneswar, India on Friday, February 9 against hosts No. 8 India 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.
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