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Belgium Defeats USWNT in Close Contest in FIH Hockey Pro League

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ANTWERP, Belgium – In their final game of the 2023-24 FIH Hockey Pro League mini-tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, the No. 13 U.S. Women’s National Team took on hosts, No. 5 Belgium. After the United Eagles scored first, the game was decided in the opening quarter when the Red Panthers found the equalizer and then the go ahead as USA fell 1-2.

After a static start, the first frame was even in terms of stats, but it was Belgium who led in goals. In the 5th minute, Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) used speed and broke through the middle of the field and passed it left to Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.), who ripped a backhand into the bottom corner. USA briefly held the 1-0 lead before Belgium found the equalizer 3 minutes later when Abi Raye lifted it over an oncoming Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.). Another chance came for the United Eagles when Megan Valzonis (San Diego, Calif.) was found wide open in front of goalkeeper Aisline D’Hooghe but she was unable to fully connect. The Red Panthers found the game winner in the 13th minute when Ambre Ballenghien buried a close range backhand to make it 1-2.

The second quarter saw Belgium mostly on the front foot but not without some spark from USA. The Red Panthers registered four shots that went either wide or was saved by Rizzo. In the 23rd minute, the United Eagles saw a close chance go missed when the shot hit the outside of the goal.

The Red Panthers resumed their control at the start of the third and 4 minutes in they earned a penalty corner. On the drag attempt, post player Ally Hammel (Duxbury, Mass.) made a great save off the line. USA started to see open lanes and a few moments later, a bouncing ball got to Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) in the circle who tried to sweep it across but it unfortunately hit a teammate.

To start the final frame, USA sat in a deep press which gave Belgium more space to make a forward decision. Although the Red Panthers help a lot of possession, they didn’t really create any great looks and when they did, Rizzo and the USA defensive unit came up with the stops. On the other end, the United Eagles couldn’t capitalize on the few chances present and with 3:30 to go they pulled Rizzo. USA couldn’t make the most of the extra field player push as they were defeated by Belgium, 1-2.

Following the game, Belgium’s Vanessa Blockmans was named Player of the Match.

Today’s contest marked a career milestone as Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) registered her 50th international cap.

(Photo by World Sport Pics)

The United Eagles will travel to London, England for their second FIH Hockey Pro League mini-tournament of this trip. They will take on No. 6 Great Britain on Saturday, June 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET; No. 3 Germany on Sunday, June 2; No. 3 Germany on Wednesday, June 5 at 10:30 a.m. ET; and No. 6 Great Britain on Thursday, June 6 at 12:45 p.m. ET. The matches on June 2 and 6 will be aired on the CBS Sports Network, while all games of the FIH Hockey Pro League can be streamed pay-per-view on Watch.Hockey for $4.99 for the whole league.

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

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