India with Strong Second Half, Defeat USWNT in FIH Hockey Pro League
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken by World Sports Pics & FIH
ROTTERDAM, Netherlands – At the HC Rotterdam in The Netherlands, the No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team took on No. 6 India in their first meeting of the FIH Hockey Pro League. Scoreless after the first quarter, USA took the lead just before the half. India responded with a strong second half, tallying three in the third but not before the red, white and blue brought it within one as time expired. The Eves added one more in the fourth for a final of 4-2.
With both teams having played just two days ago, the opening minutes saw each side work possession between the 25-yard lines. Momentum started to pick in the 7th minute when Charlotte de Vries (Malvern, Pa.) had a low angle backhand shot deflected away by an India defender. A minute later, India got into their circle down the left side but it was poked away by USA and then cleared by goalkeeper Kealsie Robles (Seaford, Va.). USA won a penalty corner in the 10th minute, but Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) drag was deemed dangerous. India took control and tested USA’s defense, as Robles made back-to-back saves. The Eves won a penalty corner as Robles saved the drag attempt, but they kept threatening looking to capitalize on a series of deep USA turnovers. The red, white and blue absorbed the pressure as the quarter closed scoreless.
India started the second frame on the front foot as USA sat in a half-field press. Control shifted in the 22nd minute as USA earned two penalty corners in a row and the second chance saw Cassie Sumfest (Lewisburg, Pa.) have her low drag cleared away by India goalkeeper Kharibam Bichu Devi. USA escaped a deep turnover threat by India when Natalie Konerth (Huntingtown, Md.) deflected the shot over the goal. India had three close chances with a backhand shot in the 26th minute, penalty corner in the 28th, but good running by Alia Marshall (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) deflected it away, and a cross goal ball that went untouched in the 28th. In the same minute, USA took the lead when Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) started a free hit quick and sent an overhead into the circle that was touched in by Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.). USA withstood late pressure by India but held on for the 1-0 halftime lead.
To start the second half, USA brought goalkeeper Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) into the game. India didn’t waste any time coming out and took the lead, scoring two goals within the first 1:45. The first came through a straight penalty corner sweep by Ekka Deep Grace and next quick passing led to Kaur Navneet converting to make it 2-1. In the 39th minute, USA had a close chance after Grega drove the circle and laid out for a shot that was saved by Kharibam Bichu Devi and Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.) was on the rebound but was called for using the back of her stick. India extended their lead in the 40th minute after using quick passing down the left side that was finished by Sonika. The resuming minutes saw USA under pressure as the Eves failed to produce on a penalty corner or a close-range backhand shot, both of which were saved by Rizzo. With 7 seconds remaining, USA earned a penalty corner after Yeager was taken to the turf and the call was upgraded. Ashley Hoffman’s (Mohnton, Pa.) drag was stopped by Kharibam Bichu Devi but Konerth collected the rebound to bring USA within one, 3-2, and notch her first career goal.
The late third quarter goal gave USA momentum in the final frame as Rodgers came out and quickly got a shot for the red, white and blue. In the 50th minute India extended the goal margin by capitalizing on a deep USA turnover when Katariya Vanada scored to make it 4-2. As the game ticked on, USA earned a penalty corner chance in the 54th minute but couldn’t find a result as India had their share of opportunities stopped by Rizzo and the defensive unit.
Following the game, India’s Kaur Navneet was named Player of the Match.
“I don’t think we stuck to the way we wanted to play for long enough in the second half and we weren’t able to keep our composure as the game went on,” said Konerth, following the game. “[In the first half] we played the way we wanted to play, played together as a team and worked really hard for each other. We created a chance and were able to advantage of that chance.”
In less than 24 hours, the U.S. Women’s National Team will return to action to take on No. 6 India in their second game of the double-header midweek games at 10:30 a.m. ET. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League Event Page.
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