Shootout Victory Over Chile Sends U-21 USWNT Through to JPAC Final
by USA Field Hockey
IMAGES TAKEN BY WORLD SPORT PICS
SAINT MICHAEL, Barbados – The U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team took on Chile in the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships (JPAC) semifinal match at Wildey Hockey Centre located in the Sir Garfield Sobers Sport Complex in Saint Michael, Barbados. After battling and finishing 1-1 in regulation, the Junior United Eagles finished strong in shootouts, going 2-0 in four rounds, to claim victory.
With this win, the U-21 USWNT will be returning home with either a silver or gold medal. USA will face Argentina for the second time this tournament on Tuesday, April 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET in the JPAC final. When the two met earlier in Pool play, USA fell to Argentina 2-0.
“Winning a semifinal game at a major tournament is a massive high performance step for this group,” said U-21 USWNT Head Coach Tracey Paul. “The team has really developed every game showing growth and improvement in the areas of focus. To hold a very fast transitional attacking team like Chile to just one shot is outstanding. We definitely did more than enough during the game to win it. All involved in the shootout were excellent, especially Annabel Skubisz.”
Having two strong teams meeting in this semifinal match made for an exciting, energetic, and even game. To begin the first quarter, Chile and USA took turns with possession, each looking to break into their attacking circle but being met with an equally keen defensive line. USA had several promising passes up the sidelines, including a long ball up the lefthand side from Lucy Adams (Andover, Mass.) that went from Abigail Tamer (Whitmore Lake, Mich.) to Olivia Bent-Cole (Philadelphia, Pa.) in the circle, who earned USA their first penalty corner of the match. USA’s attacking penalty corner unit could not cash in on the opportunity, and play stabilized back to the midfield. A similar ball sent from Kiersten Thomassey (New Albany, Ohio) up to Hope Rose (Dauphin, Pa.) was stopped by the Chile defense in the circle. A very even first quarter finished with no score, 0-0.
Both teams again looked to push up in the second quarter, with play slightly in favor of USA. Less than a minute into the frame, Tamer weaved into the circle and earned USA another penalty corner. The shot from the top went wide, and USA kept up the pressure on Chile’s free hit coming out to win back possession. The two teams spent some more time trading the ball in the midfield and breaking into the attacking 25, but neither were able to get the breakthrough they really needed. Tensions rising on both sides, USA went down a player when Rose was issued a 5-minute yellow card at the 26th minute. As the final seconds of the half ticked down, Chile made a big run up the field and into the circle, but the whistle sounded before they were able to capitalize. The score remained 0-0 going into halftime.
The third quarter was the charm for both teams to finally capitalize on their opportunities. Keeping up the offensive pressure to start the quarter, USA got on the board first at the 35 minute mark. After receiving a pass from Katie Dixon (Cary, N.C.), Tamer dribbled into the circle and skillfully lifted the ball over the Chile goalkeeper, who came out to intercept the ball. Tamer picked up the ball on the other side of the goalkeeper and hit it into the open net, putting USA up 1-0. Just two minutes later, USA was awarded a penalty corner, which was cleared out by Chile’s defense. Pressing after giving up the ball in their attacking circle, Chile finally found the opportunity they were waiting for when a USA defender made a pass in the backfield that was easily intercepted by Chile’s Martina Lira. Lira took a quick backend shot that went into the cage to tie the match 1-1. The energy rose for both teams and USA finished out the third quarter with a few strong defensive efforts, including nice skill from Lauren Wadas (Annville, Pa.) and Josie Hollamon (Delmar, Del.) to carry the ball out. The Junior United Eagles entered the fourth quarter tied 1-1.
Both Chile and USA increased their intensity in the fourth, looking to find the go-ahead goal. Each team found themselves with several chances up the field, but it was USA who was able to convert these chances to penalty corners in the circle, including one earned by Tamer at the 53 minute mark. Chile’s defense held strong, and cleared it out of their circle, but USA rebounded back on the attack. A pair of USA penalty corners later, the score remained tied. With two minutes to play in regulation, Tamer stole the ball in the midfield and passed to Rose in the circle, whose shot was saved by the Chile goalkeeper. Despite strong play and possession throughout the match, USA would have to earn their victory in shootouts.
Ryleigh Heck (Berlin, N.J.) went first for USA in the shootout, spinning around the goalkeeper and putting the ball in to put USA on the board. Dominga Valdés was up first for Chile, but her attempt was denied by USA goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz (Houston, Tex.), putting USA up 1-0. Dixon was up next for USA, but after an initial save by Chile goalkeeper Monstserrat Orellana, she was unable to take another shot before time ran out. The next participant for Chile had a good look on cage, but her shot hit the post and went out wide, keeping USA up 1-0 after the second round. Wadas took the third slot for USA, making it look easy with a slip to the left of the goalkeeper. Chile’s third attempt by Milagros Gago saw another save by Skubisz, meaning USA was up 2-0. Looking to seal the deal in the fourth round for USA, Bent-Cole attempted to send in a backhand shot, but was unable to convert. Chile missed their fourth shootout attempt, giving USA a 2-0 victory after four rounds.
For more information regarding the Junior Pan American Championships, visit the event page.
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