U-21 USWNT Qualifies for Junior World Cup with Commanding Win Over Uruguay
by USA Field Hockey
IMAGES TAKEN BY WORLD SPORT PICS
SAINT MICHAEL, Barbados – The U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team competed against Uruguay in their second match of the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships (JPAC) at the Wildey Hockey Centre located in the Sir Garfield Sobers Sport Complex in Saint Michael, Barbados. A dominant 4-1 win for the Junior United Eagles earned them a qualifying spot in the upcoming 2023 FIH Hockey Junior World Cup.
“This was a deserved win for the team,” said Tracey Paul, U-21 USWNT Head Coach. “The outcome of today’s game determined whether or not we would attend the Junior World Cup. I am very proud of how the team came out with a front foot mentality and attacked the game. Our defense was strong when needed. Today, we will celebrate, tomorrow, we will work at practice on winning the semifinal game.”
The top-three women's finishers at the JPAC qualify for the 2023 FIH Hockey Junior World Cup (JWC) set to take place December 6 to 17 in Santiago, Chile. As the host nation, Chile automatically receives qualification to the JWC. With Chile’s advancement to the JPAC Semifinals, the top-four women’s finishers automatically qualify for the JWC. USA’s advancement to the JPAC Semifinals means they have qualified for the JWC, for the eighth edition in a row.
High energy from both USA and Uruguay painted the start of the first quarter, with Uruguay pressing up into their attacking half first. As they did in their first match against Argentina, USA's defense looked strong against the efforts, laying down patient tackles and keeping the ball out of the circle. After about 10 minutes, USA began to find their connecting passes up the field, leading to several circle entries. In the 13th minute, Kiersten Thomassey (New Albany, Ohio) made a big run up the center of the field that paid off in the form of USA’s first penalty corner. The shot from the top went wide, leading to a quick transition of Uruguay back on the attack. USA's defense again stood strong, and some nice movement from Olivia Bent-Cole (Philadlephia, PA) and Katie Dixon (Cary, N.C.) up the field followed. However, the Junior United Eagles were not able to make anything materialize before 15 minutes, and the first quarter ended with the two teams scoreless.
The second quarter saw USA speed up their energy and intensity, spending more time in the attacking end. Less than one minute in, a shot from Ryleigh Heck (Berlin, N.J.) was cleared out by Uruguay's defense. Making their way down the left side of the pitch, Uruguay still could not break through USA’s line, which included an aggressive effort out by Josie Hollamon (Delmar, Del.). It took just until the 20th minute for USA to earn their first payoff penalty corner. The ball was stopped by Dixon and slipped left to Heck, whose initial shot was saved by the Uruguay goalkeeper. The rebound was pushed in by Bent-Cole, putting USA up 1-0. The red, white and blue wasted no time after the restart, earning another penalty corner just 1-minute later. Again, USA’s set piece cashed in, this time, the initial shot’s rebound was put in by Daniela Mendez-Trendler (Reistertown, Md.) togive USA a 2-0 advantage. In the 25th minute, Uruguay earned their first penalty corner, but a miss-trap at the top allowed USA's offense to break away and win a penalty corner. Unable to score off the set, USA stayed on attack for a majority of the remaining time. With less than a minute left, Uruguay was awarded a penalty corner, but after USA’s request for a video review, the call was overturned, and the game entered halftime with USA leading 2-0.
Uruguay started off the third frame with renewed offensive pressure, but still found themselves unable to crack USA's defense. A speedy Abigail Tamer (Dexter, Mich.) headed up the right side of the field and crossed it to Dixon who was unable to put it in, but USA asked for a video review. Again, their request paid off, and the Junior United Eagles were awarded the penalty corner. After the initial shot was blocked, USA's second attempt saw Uruguay use their video review and get the call changed to a free hit coming out. Not allowing the ball past their midfield, USA regained possession and was back in the circle with another set piece, which they were unable to capitalize on.
Continuing their dominant team play, Lucy Adams (Andover, Mass.) sent a ball up the left side to Bent-Cole, who utilized nifty stick work to dribble into the circle and put the ball in for her second goal of the match. Now trailing 4-0, Uruguay looked to counter up the field, earned a penalty corner that was eventually cleared out by USA's defense. As the clock wound down for the third quarter, USA again retained most of the possession. An offensive spurt from Uruguay earned them another penalty corner, and the initial shot was deflected off a USA defender. There was yet another video review, this time for Uruguay, who were awarded a retake. USA again were able to stand strong on defense and ended the quarter leading 3-0.
The excitement did not dimmish in the fourth quarter. The Junior United Eagles kept up their attacking pressure, with a shot from Heck and a penalty corner that was cleared out by Uruguay. In the 51st minute, Uruguay pushed through and earned their own penalty corner. A straight shot from the top by Elisa Civetta put her team on the scoreboard to make it 3-1. Wasting no time on the counterattack, USA’s Tamer dribbled all the way up the right side of the field and slipped a low angle shot past the Uruguay goalkeeper. Energized by the goal but frantic from USA’s quick counter, Uruguay kept attempting to push into their circle. With 3 minutes to play, USA goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz (Houston, Texas) laid down a big save for the red, white, and blue. Back on the attack, USA’s Adams and Dixon worked to wind down the clock in the top left corner of the pitch. USA finished with a triumphant 4-1 victory.
After finishing second in Pool A, USA advances to the semifinals against the Pool B winner on Sunday, April 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
For more information regarding the Junior Pan American Championships, visit the event page.
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