In the bronze medal game of the Sompo Cup Four Nations Women’s Ibaraki International Tournament in Osaka, Japan, the U.S. Women’s National Team met FIH Hero World Ranked No. 10 Korea.
Having played each other in the opening match of the tournament, both sides knew it was going to be a 60-minute battle from the start. USA got on the board first in the second quarter, but Korea responded with two goals in a minute in the final frame to take the game 2-1.
USA started the first quarter putting possession deep in their attacking end, provided by a high press. Korea quickly worked momentum the other way but was halted by USA’s defense.
The red, white and blue continued to be tested and it took until the 3rd minute before a determined Korea side pulled USA goalkeeper Jess Jecko (Sauquoit, N.Y.) off the line to make a save.
Korea continued to maintain control for another 3 minutes, threatening with a few more chances but USA packed it in. USA got their first look on goal in the 8th minute when Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.) fed Anna Dessoye (Mountain Top, Pa.) in the midfield who got through traffic and dumped it ahead to Sharkey.
She was met by Korea goalkeeper Youbin Choi, shutting down the attempt. Off that play, Korea quickly transitioned downfield, getting in their attacking circle where Jecko was there to make the clear.
Dessoye was issued a green card in the 12th minute but that didn’t stop USA from getting a few more scoring opportunities. The final look came when Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) weaved into the circle, beat two defenders but was stopped before being able to get a shot off as the first quarter finished scoreless.
One minute into the second period, Jeongihn Kim earned Korea their first penalty corner. The attempt was sent back to the inserter whose flick was deflected wide of the goal. Upon the restart, Jill Funk (Lancaster, Pa.) took possession and worked it up field.
She sent it across to Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.) who got into the circle and sent a backhand toward the goal that was saved by Choi. Catherine Caro (Martinsville, N.J.) followed up on the rebound earning USA a penalty corner.
Off the top, Ali Froede’s (Burke, Va.) sweep was saved by Choi as the rebound fell to Funk, who tried to backhand it but was unsuccessful. Korea instantly worked it the other way and earned a penalty corner which Alyssa Manley (Lititz, Pa.) read and redirected wide.
Both sides had a few good looks in their circle, but it was in the 27th minute when a solid defensive play by Van Sickle fueled an offensive run. Funk gained control up ahead, and with speed, worked it to Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.) who in a give-and-go combination got it back to Funk. Funk got into the circle, beat Choi and backhanded it in to give USA a 1-0 lead.
The third quarter started with possession being shared between both teams. To break the stillness, USA used collective defense by Funk and Sharkey to strip defender Yurim Lee inside the attacking 25 yards.
Sharkey worked it into the circle and got a backhand shot off that went over the goal. Korea was on the hunt for the equalizer but was unable to work it upfield without being met by USA’s poised defense.
Back-and-forth play occurred for a 5-minute period before a close chance came for USA when Carissa Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) threaded the ball cross field to Dessoye.
She dribbled into the circle and with space got a shot off that sailed over the goal.
With two minutes remaining in the quarter, Korea’s Yun Kyoung Cho had a textbook reception in the circle and off the back foot got a shot that went wide.
This continued control for Korea as they worked it to the right baseline earning themselves a penalty corner. Off the second award, the ball was miss trapped but Korea stuck with it and Y. Lee’s backhand was tipped over the end line.
Back the other way, USA responded with a penalty corner of their own but the straight shot by Sharkey was saved by Korea goalkeeper Sanga Lee to finish the quarter.
Korea picked up the tempo at the start of the fourth quarter as they continued to search for the tying goal. This raise flustered USA for a period before they coordinated some positive movement forward.
In the 49th minute, Korea’s Hawa In was issued a green card but that didn’t limit their offensive threat, producing a close scoring opportunity that was denied by USA goalkeeper Kealsie Robles.
USA transitioned play the other way producing a few circle penetrations that finished with Caro taking a shot off her backfoot that went wide.
Possession was shared for a bit before in the 55th minute a long ball from captain Eunji Cho got to In who sent it toward the goalmouth where in traffic Eunji Kim finished to tie the game.
A determined Korea earned a penalty corner a minute later and Y. Lee netted the drag and go-ahead goal past Robles to make the game 1-2.
USA did not let up and with two minutes remaining Funk received a deep ball and spun around her defender but was met by S. Lee who came far out of goal to make the stop.
The remaining minutes saw Korea wisely work and hold possession in their attacking corners to mechanically run down the clock.
With a minute left, a long ball from Froede found Sharkey in the circle who planted it on Y. Lee’s foot for a last chance penalty corner for USA.
Sharkey’s straight shot went wide of the goal as USA was unable to convert as the score stood.
In the gold medal game, No. 3 Australia met host nation No. 14 Japan. Striking early, Australia scored in the 3rd minute but not before Japan responded with two of their own in the first and second quarters to win the game 2-1 and take the Sompo Cup title.