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USWNT Falls to Belgium in First Match of FIH Hockey Pro League Mini-Tournament

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ANTWERP, Belgium – In the first match of the 2023-24 FIH Hockey Pro League mini-tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, the No. 13 U.S. Women’s National Team met hosts, No. 5 Belgium. After a scoreless first quarter, USA found themselves on the backfoot as the Red Panthers capitalized on their chances and the red, white and blue fell 1-5.

After Belgium almost scored on a deep USA turnover just 2 minutes into the contest, USA settled into rhythm. The first quarter didn’t see much action as neither side generated another shot. The United Eagles were patience while outletting and only produced one circle entry in a frame that was evenly matched.

USA stepped up the pressure at the start of the second, gathering back-to-back entries. A great passing sequence down the right side, got to Cassie Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa.) at the top of the circle. She opened up and tried to threat it across the circle, but it was well read. In the 19th minute, Belgium got on the board first after a left baseline cross was stopped by goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) but Astrid Bonami was on her pads to flip it up and into the net. Down the other way, the United Eagles responded when Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) had a spinning shot that hit the outside of the goal. The Red Panthers shifted momentum and tested USA’s defensive unit by earning four consecutive set pieces. On the first one, Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) was not ready in time, earning her a green card and putting USA down an athlete in the goal. Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) made the top on the restart and Bing came up with saves on the second and third chances. The quarter closed with USA trailing 0-1.

The third frame saw Belgium open their lead, putting in three goals, but USA added one back. The first came in the 33rd minute, following a green card to Brooke DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.), when a bouncing ball into the circle got to Bonami who turned and sent a forehand into the top right of the net. Two minutes later, the Red Panthers tallied another after acceleration on the right baseline got through traffic and Abi Raye touched it in. In the 41st minute, Sophia Gladieux (Oley, Pa.) ripped a low backhand that was tipped in by Abby Tamer (Dexter, Mich.) to put the United Eagles on the board. Belgium continued to push on the front foot as Bonami recorded her hat trick with a flip over Bing’s shoulder. Although trailing 1-4, USA didn’t let up and down the other way, Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) earned them their first penalty corner. After a series of re-awards, Ashley Hoffman’s (Mohnton, Pa.) drag was stopped by goalkeeper Elodie Picard.

USA found themselves on the backfoot for majority of the final quarter. Belgium could have added their lead on multiple opportunities, but behind Bing, the score line didn’t change until the final minute. She fended off four penalty corners and produced an impressive nine saves, even registering a helmet deflection. With 1:08 remaining, USA pulled Bing and after protecting the goal on two set pieces, the Red Panthers finished with one more goal, for the 1-5 final.

Following the game, Belgium’s Astrid Bonami was named Player of the Match.

Today’s contest marked a career milestone as Phia Gladieux (Oley, Pa.) registered her first international cap.

(Photo by World Sport Pics)

The United Eagles are back in action tomorrow, May 23 when they take on No. 3 Argentina at 8:15 a.m. ET. All matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League can be streamed pay-per-view on Watch.Hockey for $4.99.

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

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