Argentina Edges USWNT in Tight FIH Hockey Pro League Match in Buenos Aires

by USA Field Hockey

Images Taken by World Sport Pics

73 photos

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – At Cenard in Buenos Aires, there was a Pan American battle between the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team and No. 2 Argentina in their first meeting of the 2021-22 FIH Hockey Pro League. USA held the lead at the half, but Las Leonas capitalized on three penalty corners to overcome a strong performance by the red, white and blue, 1-3.


The opening minutes of the first quarter saw both sides looking to create as they got into the groove of the game. Five minutes in Argentina produced a handful of circle entries but USA’s defense held stout to make the clean stops. USA displayed a solid performance on the offensive end, using quick passing and in the 9th minute great skill by Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) earned the red, white and blue the match’s first penalty corner. Unsuccessful on the attempt, USA maintained control in their attacking circle but couldn’t get off a clean shot. With 3 minutes remaining, shots came from Argentina through Delfina Merino and Maria Granatto but USA goalkeeper Kealsie Robles (Seaford, Va.) was there to make the key saves. Las Leonas earned a penalty corner in the final minute but again Robles was there to deny the chance.


USA continued to show organization on defense, using double teams and solid tackles as Argentina threatened forward. Las Leonas earned a penalty corner four minutes in and although the drag by Valentina Costa hit off the post, they came up with a second attempt from Agustina Albertarrio that was saved by Robles. USA transitioned into a half-field press to absorb Argentina’s attack and the collapsing defense paid off when the red, white and blue took the lead with just 9 seconds to go before half. The play started with Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) driving the left baseline and passing it back toward the penalty stroke. There was a bit of a scramble, but Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) found it and scored on a backhand to give USA a 1-0 lead.


To start the second half, USA made a goalkeeper substitution bringing in Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) and immediately she was put under pressure as Argentina opened with seven penalty corners in a 5-minute period. The persistent Las Leonas capitalized on the fourth and seventh chances just a minute apart, the first a low drag into the right corner by Costa and the second a goalmouth scramble put in from Rocio Sanchez. Now trailing 1-2, USA continued to fight and push forward and earned a penalty corner in the 40th minute. The straight shot by Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) was deflected by Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.) and Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi make the save. Both sides closed out the frame with some good possession build-up, and Argentina almost extended the lead with seconds remaining when Merino had open space in the circle that forced Bing to come out and make the stick clear, but neither team could convert as Las Leonas led 1-2 heading into the final quarter.


A determined USA didn’t let up and gave it their all in the final 15 minutes. After two circle entries for Argentina were defended well by Jillian Wolgemuth (Mount Joy, Pa.) and Bing, USA earned back-to-back penalty corners in the 53rd minute. Unsuccessful on both, Las Leonas produced some more good looks in the 57th minute when Albertarrio picked it off a USA defender in the circle and her backhand shot was saved by Bing. Moments later, Bing made a diving stop that was cleared away by Cassie Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa.). With 1:51 to go and still trailing 1-2, USA pulled goalkeeper Bing for the additional field player. Unfortunately, that decision was exploited when Argentina earned a penalty corner with 7 seconds to go in the match and Costa scored on the open net to make the final 1-3.


Following the game, Argentina’s Valentina Costa was named Player of the Match.


“I thought today was a really good, hard-fought battle,” said Grega, following the match. “I think we came out in the second half a little on the backfoot, so we will go back, look at some things and make some changes but just continue to bring the good energy tomorrow.”


Today’s contest marked career milestones for USA athletes Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Charlotte de Vries (Malvern, Pa.) who both played in their first international cap for Team USA.


In less than 24 hours, the U.S. Women’s National Team will return to action to take on No. 2 Argentina in their second game of the double-header weekend at 3:00 a.m. ET. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League Event Page.


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