Battling USWNT Falls to Germany in 2021-22 FIH Hockey Pro League Opener
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken by FIH & WorldSportsPics
MÖNCHENGLADBACH, Germany – The No. 15 U.S. Women’s National Team took the turf at SparkassenPark in Mönchengladbach, Germany to play their first game of the 2021-22 FIH Hockey Pro League. Up against an opponent that already had played six games in the season, USA held Die Danas scoreless in the first half before two second half goals were the match decider as Germany topped the red, white and blue, 2-0.
The opening frame saw limited chances as both sides earned just one penalty corner and a few shots each, but it was USA who produced more on frame. Much of the period was played between the 25-yard lines but Germany earned the match’s first penalty corner in the 9th minute. The high drag by Die Danas went far wide and forced a diving Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) off her line. A minute later, USA went on the attack as Julianna Tornetta (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), drove the circle and her push toward goal was deflected wide. She immediately asked for a video referral and claimed that it came off the Germany foot instead of stick. USA was correct and the drag by Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) was saved by Germany goalkeeper Julia Sonntag but found Brooke DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.) on the post whose shot hit the outside of the goal. Resuming, Paityn Wirth (Thompsontown, Pa.) got ahead but she got under her backhand and sent it wide. To close out the frame, Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) produced a great shot after receiving it and sending a backhand on frame that Sonntag saved.
Germany came out in the second quarter on the front foot generating a handful of circle penetrations and shots, but they were continually met by a solid USA defense led by Bing. In the 20th minute, Die Danas created back-to-back looks, the first one by Hannah Granitzki that went wide left and the second, a backhand that was saved by Bing. USA had a good look when great elimination skill by Tornetta found Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) ahead who sent it to a running Haley Randall (Virginia Beach, Va.) on the right who threatened the circle and forced Sonntag to come out and make the stop. Germany earned two penalty corners in the final minute of the quarter but both attempts were denied to keep the game scoreless at half.
To start the second half, USA made a goalkeeper substitution bringing in Jenny Rizzo (Hershey, Pa.) and right off the resuming whistle she was tested to make glove save. Five minutes in, Germany broke the deadlock after a backhand by Nele Aring was deflected in by Hanna Granitzki for the 1-0 lead. A determined USA produced four chances within a 60-second span to end the quarter. First, Olivia Bent-Cole (Philadelphia, Pa.) had space and drove the right baseline and her back pass ended up with Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) who pushed it toward a rushing Sonntag. On the rebound Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.) got off a turning shot. Next, Bent-Cole found herself in a 1v1 situation with Sonntag but her hard sweep toward goal went off the pads. On the long corner restart, Moyer got of a backhand that went across the goal untouched. With seconds ticking down, Germany earned and converted on their fourth penalty corner through a straight drag by Sonja Zimmerman to extend their lead to 2-0.
USA upped their pressure at the start of the fourth quarter, looking to generate deep turnovers on Germany. The persistence paid off as the red, white and blue earned their second penalty corner in the 56th minute. The high drag by Hoffman was saved by Sonntag and the rebound shot by Rodgers was deflected wide as USA was unable to convert. USA continued to push forward and a backhand delivery into the circle went untouched in the final minute, as Germany held on for the 2-0 win.
“It took us a bit of a time to get used to the space and how wide Germany makes it so now we have the confidence in the pocket, to go in and out, so hopefully tomorrow we can utilize that a bit earlier,” said Hoffman, following the game.
Following the game, Germany’s Elisa Gräve was named Player of the Match.
Today’s contest marked career milestones for USA athletes Olivia Bent-Cole (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) who both played in her 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. 5 Germany in their second game of the double-header weekend at 6:00 a.m. ET. For more information, visit the FIH Hockey Pro League Event Page.
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