USWNT Falls to Belgium in First FIH Hockey Pro League Match of 2021

by USA Field Hockey

Images Taken by FIH/

27 photos

ANTWERP, Belgium - In their first game since February 2020 and first under the leadership of head coach Anthony Farry, the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team were unable to withstand a well-balanced attack from No. 12 Belgium in their first of two games this weekend in the FIH Hockey Pro League. After a scoreless first quarter, the Red Panthers tallied once in each of the remaining frames to defeat USA, 0-3.


The opening minute saw USA start quick. Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) used speed to break through into the attacking 25 and pass it ahead to Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.). Although it went into the goal, Grega was unable to get a touch on it. For the remainder of the quarter Belgium held much of the possession and goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) absorbed a handful of subsequent threats. USA had a close chance in the 12th minute when Grega picked a Belgium defender and passed it across to Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.), but she was unable to connect in front of the goal. A late chance for Belgium’s Judith Vandermeiren was saved by Bing as the quarter ended with the deadlock unbroken.


The Red Panthers continued their momentum into the second quarter, earning a penalty corner within the first minute. Blocked by Bing, USA used quick transition as Miranda Rigg (Fredericksburg, Va.) passed ahead to Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) who ripped a backhand shot that was saved by Belgium’s goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe. That offensive run was short-lived when Belgium immediately countered, and Justine Rasir sent a perfect sweep in front of the goal that was deflected into the net by Abi Raye to give the Red Panthers the 0-1 lead. Back-to-back penalty corner attempts by Stephanie Vanden Borre were blocked by fly Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) and saved by Bing as Belgium continued to threaten. Attacker Ambre Ballenghien saw two chances go unanswered as she missed a deflection off the right post and Bing denied a solid, low strike to keep the game 0-1 at halftime.


It took 3 minutes into the third quarter for Belgium to extend their lead when Tiphaine Duquesne buried a sweep off a penalty corner to make it 0-2. USA found themselves playing a lot of time on defense, behind the command of USA goalkeeper Keaslie Robles (Yorktown, Va.), as the Red Panthers controlled the physicality of the frame. Rigg had a good look on goal and a few circle entries saw USA unable to find an outcome.


Belgium remained on the front foot and added another goal late in the fourth quarter. Following two USA cards - a green card issued to Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) and a 5-minute yellow to Magadan - the Red Panthers had two penalty corners go unanswered before Raye netted her second of the game with a finish to the left with 2 minutes remaining. Although trailing 0-3 and with time ticking down, the red, white and blue continued to push as Alyssa Parker (Woodbine, Md.) recorded a backhand shot in the ended seconds but the score line remained 0-3.


“It’s been a long time since we have been able to play an international [field] hockey game,” said Magadan, USWNT Captain. “It was fun to get back out there on the pitch. We have some things to work on, some learnings to take from the game, so that is good that we can go back now and watch the film [of the match] and come back out strong tomorrow.”


Following the game, Belgium’s midfielder Judith Vandermeiren was named Player of the Match.


Today’s contest marked career milestones for six USA athletes as Maddie Bacskai (Berwyn, Pa.), Kelsey Briddell (Gansevoort, N.Y.), Haley Randall (née Schleicher) (Virginia Beach, Va.), Miranda Rigg (Fredericksburg, Va.), Jillian Wolgemuth (Mount Joy, Pa.) and Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) all played in their first international cap.


USWNT athletes Miranda Rigg, Maddie Bacskai, Jillian Wolgemuth, Beth Yeager (top), Kelsey Briddel and Haley Randall (bottom) all earn their first international cap


In less than 24 hours, the U.S. Women’s National Team will return to action to take on No. 12 Belgium in their second game of their double-header weekend at 11:30 a.m. ET. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League event page.


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