USWNT Produces Solid Start in Debut of 2022-23 FIH Hockey Pro League
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken by World Sport Pics
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – In their first game of the 2022-23 FIH Hockey Pro League season, the No. 16 U.S. Women’s National Team faced No. 9 New Zealand. Hosted at the National Hockey Centre in Wellington, New Zealand, USA took the lead in the second quarter, but the Black Sticks tallied on a late penalty corner goal in the final minute of regulation to tie the match and force it into a shootout. The United Eagles earned the extra point after finishing 2-0 following four rounds and behind a stellar shootout performance from USA goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas).
"While I'm happy that we came away with two points, I was disappointed how tentative we were in the first half and allowed New Zealand to have too much possession," commented David Passmore, USWNT Head Coach, following the game. "Our goal seemed to settle us and we reacted positively with more tempo. That said, we defended in deep areas much better which has been a big area of focus so was pleased in that respect."
"Our young midfield started to dominate well in the second half and all performed which is exciting for the future. It’s always hard when you concede so late in the game to rally yourself for a shootout but we were excellent in that respect and our attitude and commitment to our team values was at the forefront of this gritty performance."
Jumping out with a high press, USA tried to set the tone early but struggled to positively break into their attacking end. In the 9th minute, New Zealand took control and saw three circle entries defended well by the United Eagles. On the first, Rose Tynan drove the left baseline but Bing cut down the angle. Next, a great build up on the right side concluded with Tarryn Davey attempting a backhand, but Meredith Sholder (Fleetwood, Pa.) stepped in to shave it away. Following, a long ball into the circle found Hannah Cotter whose shot was saved off the glove of Bing.
Although sitting on the backfoot for a good portion of the second quarter, USA made the most of their limited opportunities and broke the deadlock in the 21st minute. An overhead ball from Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.) was brought down by Sanne Caarls (Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands) in the left corner. She drove the circle and tried to pass it across to Amanda Golini (Randolph, N.J.) but it went off a New Zealand foot and into the goal. The Black Sticks regained control and moments later earned the match’s first penalty corner. The first attempt was saved on the goal line by Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) while the second was deflected wide off the stick of Bing. The United Eagles tallied one more circle entry before the half through Beth Yeager (Greenwich, Conn.) but the score remained unchanged.
USA settled in the third quarter and held more control by using smart possession. The frame was played primarily between the 25-yard lines with few chances present. A good look came for New Zealand in the 37th minute when a long ball got through to Alex Lukin at the top of the circle who fired a shot that went just wide.
As the match played out and time ticked down, New Zealand upped the pressure eager to find the equalizer and pulled their goalkeeper in the 57th minute. USA was reduced to nine field players in the final 3 minutes after Yeager and Maddie Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.) were both issued 5-minute yellow cards. The Black Sticks continued to attack and with 39 seconds remaining won a penalty corner. Stephanie Dickins’ drag snuck under Bing, tying the game at 1-1, and forcing the shootout.
Through four rounds, Bing saved two and forced two shots wide, while Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Sessa both scored to seal the shootout win and bonus point for the United Eagles.
Following the game, USA’s Meredith Sholder was named Player of the Match for her contributions in the midfield.
Today’s contest also marked the first international cap for Emma DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.)
USA will take on No. 10 China on Sunday, February 19 at 10:10 p.m. ET in their second FIH Hockey Pro League game of the mini-tournament in Wellington, New Zealand.
The format of the fourth season of the FIH Hockey Pro League is divided into a series of date blocks in which mini tournaments will be played where several teams gather and compete in one venue.
For more information regarding the FIH Hockey Pro League, visit the event page.
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