USWNT Captures First FIH Pro League Win Over China

"VAN" (Sports Desk) :: The U.S. Women’s National Team competed in their third game in nine days on Saturday night as they took on No. 10 China in their second straight weekend in the FIH Pro League at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. The setting sun shined on the pitch on a warm spring evening as the whistle blew to start the match. USA came in the game with an agenda, seeking their first FIH Pro League regulation win. They did just that, scoring two goals in the second quarter and adding one more in the third while standing up against a flurry of defensive penalty corners from China to win 3-1.

The first quarter began with both teams missing connections as they worked the ball up the field. In the second minute of play, Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) dribbled into China’s circle, crossed it to Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.) who just missed the tip beyond goalkeeper Ye Jiao. USA maintained possession in their attacking end as a reverse shot from Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) unfortunately found a teammate’s foot before it could reach the back of the goal. Later in the opening quarter, China earned their first two penalty corners but were unsuccessful as one of the chances finished with the shot redirected out of bounds off the stick of Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.). China continued to break past USA’s defense, but goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas.) held her ground between the goal posts. A close chance came for China’s Zhang Xiaoxue when she dribbled down the baseline but Bing slid out to put a stop to the shot on goal.

The end of the quarter brought more action for the red, white and blue when Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) fed it to Magadan into the circle near the end line, but Magadan found herself alone as China forced the turnover. Although both squads created opportunities on goal, the score stood at 0-0 after 15 minutes of play.

The second quarter began with another chance for USA as Alyssa Manley (Lititz, Pa.) brought the ball down the left side then passed over to Laura Hurff (Newark, Del.). Hurff managed to pass on the reverse to Danielle Grega (Kingston, Pa.) who then cut in front of China's Ye Jiao, but the rebound went into Grega’s shin. China earned a string of back-to-back penalty corners but no result changed the scoreboard due to excellent defensive by USA. On China's third penalty corner attempt, Manley stopped the attempt before it got through to Bing. USA used the opportunity to produce a fast break to move upfield and earn their first penalty corner in the process. Sharkey set up at the top to take the hit as her shot trickled past China’s post player but Anna Dessoye (Mountaintop, Pa.) was there to top it in and give USA the opening goal. Another set of back-to-back penalty corners followed for China but again they could not find a solution to the USA defense. China pressed on and continued to produce offense while they earned their eighth penalty corner. On the chance, goalkeeper Bing swatted away two high flicks before another penalty corner was awarded. USA asked for a video referral on the call and questioned if the ball hit the back of a China stick before it entered the circle. After review, the umpires determined that it did in fact hit the wrong side of the stick, giving possession to USA.

USA had the momentum and Dessoye worked it into the left corner of the field and sent a bouncing ball into the circle to find Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.) who was able to deflect it past Ye Jiao for USA’s second goal of the night. As the horn blew to signal the end of the half, the home crowd grew ecstatic to the two-goal advantage.

As the second half got underway, Sharkey fed to Manley inside the circle who looked for Magadan, but the play was broken up by Gu Bingfeng. USA stayed patient early in the third as China began to increase their pressure, especially in the attacking fourth of the field. Magadan was swarmed by China’s press, but was able to find an outlet to Matson but it was cut off by China’s defensive line. Breaking into USA’s circle the other way, Yong Jing dribbled midair before she sent a reverse shot off target. In the 40th minute, Grega swung for a high shot that forced goalkeeper Ye Jiao to make a jumping save. As a second shot from Grega came, Ye Jiao kicked the ball out of bounds which officials ruled intentional and awarded USA a penalty corner. On the play, a direct shot from Linnea Gonzales (Bel Air, Md.) slipped inside the right corner past China goalkeeper Ye Jiao for USA's third goal. Down 3-0, China did not relent as they pushed into USA’s circle following the restart. Another penalty corner resulted from China’s pressure, but the shot by Gu Bingfeng was denied by Bing on a sliding save to deflect it out of play. USA countered with one-minute remaining but was met by Ye Jaio and China’s defensive line to halt the attempt.

USA pressed on into the fourth quarter, forcing China to play stronger defense. Offensively, China struck as USA slipped up temporarily which allowed He Jiangxin to take a reverse shot on goal. Bing was there to once again make the stop as the clock ticked down. With five minutes remaining, China earned their twelfth penalty corner of the game. The initial shot was rebounded off Bing’s pads and fell near the stroke mark and it was captain Peng Yang who lifted it into the goal to put her team on the scoreboard. One minute later, China created another close chance off a penalty corner, but the ball hit the post. Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.) scrambled to clear and found an outlet to take it to the other end. With every entry attempt by China, USA stood strong to block the pressure. The quarter ended with a final penalty corner awarded to China as Bing made another save on the drag flick shot by Gu Bingfeng. USA took control to wind down the final seconds as they secured their first FIH Pro League win.


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