U-18 USWNT Has a Promising Start to Europe Tour

by USA Field Hockey


50 photos

UTECHT, Netherlands – The U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team opened their Europe Tour with a 3-3 draw against The Netherlands on April 3 at Kampong Hockey Club in Utrech, The Netherlands. In a match which the USA never fell behind on the score sheet, the team demonstrated resilience and determination to set the pace.

The following day on April 4, the Junior Eagles took on Belgium’s U-18 squad, falling 4-3 in a closely contested match. Now halfway through their Europe Tour, USA has already shown a promising start.


Game 1: USA 3 - 3 NED

The red, white and blue opened the scoring less than 40 seconds into the match after an intercept in the midfield by Molly Nye (Weston, Mass.) that led to a penalty corner. On the ensuing set piece, Mia Schoenbeck (Lagrange, Ky.) scored a well-executed drag flick, with assists from Maci Bradford (Delmar, Del.) and Anne Marie Krebs (Louisville, Ky.).


Heading into the second quarter tied 1-1, USA capitalized on an early opportunity, once again scoring in the first minute of play. An aerial by Schoenbeck effectively broke The Netherlands’ high press and was received nicely off a well-timed lead by Ella Gaitan (Belvidere, N.J.). Gaitan demonstrated a high level of skill and composure on the ball, eliminating the goalkeeper to push USA ahead 2-1 on the scoreboard. The Oranje equalized on a penalty stroke that was awarded after an aerial broke the last line of the USA defense.


Heading into the fourth quarter of a back and forth contest, Gaitan once again scored a goal in the run of play to put USA ahead 3-2. The Netherlands responded with an increased level of intensity, scoring an equalizer and earning a penalty corner, with their sights set on taking the lead for the first time in the match. The Oranje executed a quality set-piece that saw Rachael Whitehead (Hockssin, Del.) make a defensive save to keep The Netherlands off the board. 


With time winding down, Nye jumped up into the attack from the midfield to earn USA a penalty corner in the final minute of play. Off the chance, The Netherlands' penalty corner defense stood tough and prevented USA’s push to take the lead.


Throughout the match, goalkeepers Aby Deverka (Houston, Texas) and Alyssa Klebasko (Odenton, Md.) each showed poise under pressure in holding a dynamic Netherlands' attack at bay. Their ability to maintain a calm presence resulted in USA withstanding the ebbs and flows of the Oranje attack at key moments in the match.


“A really encouraging start to our tour,” said Ralph Boersma, U-18 USWNT Head Coach, after the match. “The team competed hard from start to finish. We gained valuable experience and video that will make us better tomorrow. We want to be more consistent throughout the entire game and never drop below a certain level and standard.”



Game 2: USA 3 - 4 BEL

Coming off a draw the previous day, the U-18 USWNT looked to build on their momentum as they traveled to Royal Beerschot Hockey Club in Antwerp, Belgium to play the Belgium U-18 Women’s National Team. The high energy from both sides made for a hotly contested matchup.


The first quarter was scoreless, with limited chances for both sides. USA gained two penalty corner opportunities, but good defensive skill from Belgium’s goalkeeper prevented the team getting on the board. A hard shot from Schoenbeck looked promising but glanced just wide of the cage. Belgium started the second quarter strong which resulted in multiple circle entries for the Red Panthers. An outlet error by USA led to a huge chance that Belgium was able to capitalize on, scoring off the rebound. USA was not able to create much attacking momentum in the remainder of the second frame and went into halftime down 1-0.


Within a minute of the second half, an unfortunate turnover inside USA’s defensive circle led to an opportunity for Belgium, who brought the score up to 2-0. After some tactical changes, USA showed resilience and ramped up the tempo and pressure. This had an immediate effect and led to a well-executed penalty corner goal from Gaitan, with assists going to Madison Beach (Northbrook, Ill.) and Bradford. The Junior Eagles demonstrated a solid press and fast attacking transition hockey, leading to quality scoring opportunities in the second half. The USA press caused a Belgium turnover that led to Melea Weber (Macungie, Pa.) scoring an unassisted strike to tie the game at 2-2. After a quick attacking free hit, the hosts were able to regain the lead, 3-2, off a tip into goal from a through ball from outside the circle. A stroke call in favor of Belgium after another outlet turnover put USA two goals behind.


Once again, the USA showed grit and character and came back with another goal to make it 4-3 with 7 minutes to play. Gaitan won the ball with an interception and assisted Bradford who calmly put it in the goal. After pulling the goalkeeper, USA chased opportunities in an effort to earn the equalizer as time expired, but the final result saw Belgium take the match 4-3. 


“This tour is about growing up fast on both sides of the ball,” commented Boersma. “When we do things right and are connected, we can reach a high level on attack and on defense. The moments our focus drops or our connection on the field lacks, opponents of this caliber will take advantage of that. We want to learn from these experiences and get better every day of this week. We will use practice on our rest day to sharpen some things up and prepare ourselves for Germany on Thursday.”


Next up, the U-18 USWNT will take on Germany this Thursday, April 6 at 11:00 a.m. ET at e.V. Düsseldorf in Düsseldorf, Germany.


For more information regarding the U-18 USWNT Europe Tour, visit the event page.



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