LONDON, England – July 21, 2018 – At the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, the U.S. Women’s National Team met FIH Hero World Ranked No. 16 Ireland in their first pool play game of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup. An exciting match-up saw the Green Army jump to an early 0-2 lead before USA tallied one back, but that wasn’t enough for a determined Ireland side that took the game 1-3.
From the starting whistle, Ireland applied a lot of pressure on USA. The Green Army’s avid attack paid off early as a long ball threaded through the field found Deirdre Duke wide open at the top of the circle. Upon receiving, she was faced 1v1 with USA’s goalkeeper Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.), turned and tucked it into the goal for a 0-1 lead. USA continued to struggle with possession passes resulting in quick transitions for Ireland. In the 12th minute, Ireland earned their first penalty corner that Shirley McCay swept successfully into the corner to make it 0-2. Following the two-goal deficit, USA picked up the tempo. A close chance came when Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) used her speed to get it up field to Jill (Witmer) Funk (Lancaster, Pa.) who dodged an Ireland defender but was stopped by goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran. Fighting until the quarter ending whistle, Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) drove the right baseline and earned USA their first penalty corner. A fake, dump right sweep was send down by M. Vittese that Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) deflected it in to tally one back for USA, 1-2.
To the start second quarter, the Green Army continued to be an offensive threat and exploited USA’s uncharacteristic turnovers. A close chance came for Ireland when two strikers linked up from baseline to penalty stroke, but USA’s goalkeeper Briggs came up big with the save. USA started to find space to attack as play went stagnant between the 25-yard lines. USA had a penalty corner before the quarter was over but Ashley Hoffman’s (Mohnton, Pa.) drag flick attempt was deflected off the crossbar to keep the score 1-2 to Ireland.
The forward momentum continued for Ireland at the beginning of the third quarter, but USA gathered their share of shots on goal. In the 41st minute after an unsuccessful penalty corner by USA, miscommunication on who’s possession it was resulted in an Ireland fast break. The ball ended up with Duke shooting it at close-range through Briggs to extend the lead to 1-3.
With fifteen minutes left to close the gap, USA picked up the energy in the fourth quarter, producing circle penetrations, one after another. Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.) got off two solid shots on goal, with the latter being saved by a diving McFerran’s glove. USA continued to fight until the end but could not break through Ireland’s defense for an outcome as the final score stood 1-3 to Ireland.
Following the loss, Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach, noted that the team has to execute the set game plan from the start. “We need to play the game as it develops, be proactive, keep confidence and use our ability and strengths,” added Schopman. “We have to get to the ball first and play it around.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team will face host nation England on Wednesday, July 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET in their second pool play match. Earlier today in Pool B, India scored first and England found an equalizer as the match finished in a 1-1 tie.