U-21 USWNT Start JPAC Campaign with Narrow Loss to Argentina
by USA Field Hockey
IMAGES TAKEN BY WORLD SPORT PICS
SAINT MICHAEL, Barbados – The U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team began their 2023 Junior Pan American Championships campaign with a match against Argentina at the Wildey Hockey Centre located in the Sir Garfield Sobers Sport Complex in Saint Michael, Barbados. The Junior Eagles showed strong defense and resilience against a powerful Argentina team, but could not prevail in the 2-0 loss.
“Today we were by no means our best, but we were competitive,” said U-21 USWNT Head Coach Tracey Paul. “Until the last four minutes one opportunity could have tied the game. We will extract the lessons, and move forward. The team is very keen to play our attacking style of hockey in the next game.”
Argentina’s offense came out of the gates ready to go – scoring early in the 6th minute. Keeping up with Las Leonas' pace and pressure, USA worked to lock down the remaining offensive attempts. In the 9th minute, a quick backhand shot from Argentina was saved by USA goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz (Houston, Texas), while the rest of the defense worked to get the ball out of the circle. Argentina sought to break through the USA defense, but found themselves retaking the same penalty corner four times with nothing to show for it. Another quick shot from an Argentina attacker was again saved by Skubisz, and cleared out wide by the USA defense, leaving Las Leonas with a 1-0 lead.
The second frame saw similar play, with Argentina putting on attacking pressure and USA handling it with composure and discipline. The Junior United Eagles fended off a flurry of offensive attempts from Argentina, including several shots and penalty corners. USA saw just a few offensive breakthroughs, but none materialized. This time, able to completely shut out Argentina’s attack, USA entered halftime still down 1-0.
In just the first minute of the third quarter, Skubisz was again called upon to make a save on an Argentina shot. Despite being down with a barrage of pressure, USA did not relent being calm and composed in the backfield. However, the red, white, and blue continued to have trouble connecting passes in their attacking half, turning a few good chances over to the Argentina defensive line. Another penalty corner for Argentina in the 38th minute was saved by Skubisz, but deflected high, leading to a retake. Flying for the USA defensive unit, Hope Rose (Dauphin, Pa.) stunted the initial shot, allowing USA to clear the ball out. Soon after, a high press from USA’s offense won the ball back in the midfield, allowing for one of their best offensive chances of the match – a quick backhand shot from Olivia Bent-Cole (Philadelphia, Pa.) that was saved by Argentina’s goalkeeper. The quarter ended with the same score of 1-0 to Argentina.
More of the same calm and competent defense from USA was displayed in the fourth quarter. In the 48th minute, Argentina broke out down the left side in what looked like a good chance, only to be shut down by patient defense from Josie Hollamon (Delmar, Del.). With about 10 minutes left to play, the urgency of needing a goal led to a 5-minute yellow card awarded to Abigail Tamer (Dexter, Mich.), leaving USA down an athlete. Las Leonas capitalized on this opportunity, scoring off a ball hit from outside the circle that was tipped in off the post by Paula Santamarina. Now trailing 2-0, USA again tried to make something happen in the attacking half, only to be met with more offensive pressure from Argentina. A few good defensive plays in the USA circle kept the score to 2-0 at the final whistle.
Next, USA will play their second pool play game on Friday, April 14, against Uruguay at 10:00 a.m. ET.
For more information regarding the Junior Pan American Championships, visit the event page.
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