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USWNT Advances to FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier Semifinals with Shutout Win Over New Zealand

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RANCHI, India – In their final pool game of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier Ranchi 2024 in Ranchi, India, No. 12 U.S. Women’s National Team faced No. 10 New Zealand. With a spot in the semifinals on the line, USA tallied early in the second quarter and held on for the 1-0 shutout win behind a great defensive performance.

The opening minutes saw New Zealand with possession as USA sat in a three-quarter press. In the 5th minute, a deep turnover by USA led to the Black Sticks getting the first circle entry, but fortunately for USA the forward pass was out of reach. Midway through Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) drove the right side, pushed it along the endline and USA earned a penalty corner. The drag by Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) was slightly touched by New Zealand goalkeeper Grace O’Hanlon to put it off the post. The United Eagles maintained control and earned another set piece in the 10th minute that was deflect away by the post player. The quarter closed scoreless.

Two minutes into the second frame, Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) scored off a penalty corner when her drag deflected in off the post player to give USA the lead. In the 22nd minute, the Black Sticks had a close chance to equalize when a backhand sailed over the goal. USA produced a few late offensive threats and shut down New Zealand outside their attacking circle, as the red, white and blue held the 1-0 lead into the halftime break.

USA started the game by breaking through as Amanda Golini (Randolph, N.J.) was unable to cleanly connect on a backhand. The Black Sticks earned their first penalty corner in the 34th minute but their forehand attempt was too high. Three minutes later they earned another after driving the left baseline and bringing Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) out of the goal. It looked like Megan Hull’s drag evened the match, but Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) forced an obstruction at the top, leading to the goal being disallowed. USA held a good defensive structure for the rest of the period, even while down an athlete after Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.) was issued a 5-minute yellow. New Zealand chose to pull their goalkeeper with 1:22 to go to heighten their field player advantage, but with no outcome.

Even though still down an athlete, 55 seconds into the final quarter USA almost extended the lead when Emma DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.) sent a ball along the left baseline that Abby Tamer (Dexter, Mich.) touched by her defender and scored on an open net. The goal was reviewed and overturned for hitting off of Tamer’s body. Shortly after, Sessa picked a New Zealand defender, dribbled into the circle and had her backhand shot saved by O’Hanlon. Still with momentum, Hoffman sent an overhead to Tamer on the run, but she was well defended on her shot. Back-to-back 5-minute yellow cards were issued - first to Hope Ralph in the 52nd minute, and then Karlie Kisha (Hamburg, Pa.) in the 53rd. That same minute, New Zealand pulled their goalkeeper again and tensions rose.

Bing came up with a big stick save in the 56th minute, but on the resuming play the Black Sticks were awarded a penalty corner. After USA challenged the call, the set piece stood. New Zealand didn’t find a result on that chance but earned four more consecutive opportunities. On the last one, Hoffman made a great tackle that led to USA getting deep into the right corner. New Zealand kept threatening but USA held on for the 1-0 shutout win.

Following the game, Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) was named Player of the Match.

The USA will play No. 11 Japan in the semifinals on Thursday, January 18 at 6:00 a.m. ET. Fans can watch it live on CBS Sports Network or pay-per-view on Watch.Hockey.

For more information regarding the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier Ranchi 2024, visit the event page.

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