In contrast to a rain-filled evening match in their last outing, the U.S. Women’s National Team took to the pitch for their third game of the Sompo Cup Four Nations Women’s Ibaraki International Tournament against FIH Hero World Ranked No. 3 Australia.
In the closely heated match at OIC Field at Osaka Ibaraki Campus in Osaka, Japan, USA tied the game in the 59th minute, but a late surge by Australia resulted in a go-ahead goal to give the Hockeyroos a 2-1 victory.
Australia started the game by taking control in the opening minutes, getting the first circle entry of the match and a shot on goal. USA countered working patiently passing upfield but would lose possession just outside the circle.
Meanwhile, the Hockeyroos applied pressure early to USA’s defensive unit gaining more entries while also breaking up clearing chances for the red, white and blue. In the 8th minute Jess Jecko (Saquoit, N.Y.) made a diving stop on a bouncing ball, denying Australia’s Hayley Padget a chance to redirect it for an early score.
Moments later on USA’s following possession, a pass by Jill Funk (Lancaster, Pa.) was deflected up, hitting the crossbar with several players believing it to be a USA goal. It was ruled to not have crossed the goal line, keeping the game at 0-0 much to the dismay of USA’s offense.
The final moments of the opening frame saw Australia threatening with multiple circle entries but could not find a solution to USA’s defense as the first 15 minutes concluded.
Holding a slight edge in possession, the Hockeyroos kept the pressure on USA’s defense but were met time and time again by a swift moving defensive line.
That trend was snapped in the 23rd minute when Australia was awarded the first penalty corner of the match. A well placed insert by Savannah Fitzpatrick was met by Georgina Morgan who struck it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
On USA’s next possession, Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) found Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) in front of the net who could not connect on the shot. Moments later, Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) placed the ball in front of the goal to a waiting Catherine Caro (Martinsville, N.J.) but just missed on the redirect play.
With time running out in the half, Australia was awarded another penalty corner but could not convert. USA quickly moved back up field as Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) charged down the near sideline but lost the ball close to the circle. This was the last action of the half as the horn sounded with USA down 0-1.
USA came out strong to open the second half, which saw Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) with the ball low in the circle but could not find an angle to shoot. The Hockeyroos first chance of the third period came in the 34th minute on a penalty corner but it was miss trapped to end the attempt.
They would get another chance in the 36th minute, this time getting the shot away but USA goalkeeper Jecko was there to make the save. USA’s penalty corner unit would get their first action of the day in the 41st minute.
Anna Dessoye (Mountaintop, Pa.) made the insert, and the initial shot forced Australia goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram to make a body save. The rebound came out to a waiting Sharkey whose shot could not make it through traffic.
Moments later on USA’s next offensive chance, an alert Dessoye quickly passed to Sharkey who was just inside the circle, hitting an Australian defender’s foot to give USA their second penalty corner of the day.
A miss trap on the play gave possession right back to Australia, who stormed downfield for two more shots on goal which were denied away by Jecko to end the third period.
Both squads had early chances as the final 15 minutes got underway. Jecko made back-to-back saves in the 54th minute before Australia set up for their fifth penalty corner of the game.
USA kept pushing offensively as the clock quickly approached the 57th minute, when a shot by Dessoye went wide of the goal, giving the ball back to Australia. A backhand try by Ambrosia Malone went high above the head of Jecko and out of play to give USA another late chance.
On the next possession, Moyer entered the circle and fed Carissa Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) who then passed the ball back behind to Moyer who moved it to an anticipating Taylor West (Pocomoke, Md.) tipping in the ball behind Australia goalkeeper Bartram to tie the game 1-1 in the 59th minute.
In the final second Australia sprinted back downfield catching USA with less defenders on a stretched field. Naomi Evans would find the back of the goal to give Australia a 2-1 advantage with just seconds remaining.
The U.S. Women’s National Team will play in the 3rd/4th place game on Sunday, September 15 at 12:45 a.m. ET against No. 10 Korea. The two teams previously met in the opening match of the tournament, where USA prevailed 2-1.