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June 10, 2015 — World League Semifinal Preview: Pool B

Yesterday, we began our look at the FIH World League women’s semifinal tournament in Valencia. Here’s a look at Pool B, where the U.S. team resides:

GERMANY
World ranking: 6
How they got here: World ranking
Key players: Eileen Hoffmann, D; Janne Muller-Weiland, M; Yvonne Frank, G; Nina Hasselmann, D
Outlook: Germany, after tremendous success in the 2000s, was humbled with its eighth-place finish at the 2014 World Cup. The June 14th match with the United States is the game that will likely decide the pool winner

IRELAND
World ranking: 14
How they got here: Qualified through World League Round 2
Key players: Megan Fraser, M/D; Emma Gray, G; Shirley McCay, M; Cliodhna Sargent, D
Outlook: Ireland is going to be a tough match for anyone in this pool. Fraser, late of the University of Maryland, can do it all in the center of the park. Let we forget, this combined Ireland-Northern Ireland side was the second-place team when the U.S. won Champions Challenge I last year

SOUTH AFRICA
World ranking: 11
How they got here: World ranking
Key players: Shelley Russell, F; Ilse Davids, M; Lisa-Marie Detleefs, M; Nicolene Terblanche, D
Outlook: With the retirement of all-time leading goal-scorer Pietie Coetzee, the South Africans can be forgiven if they look lost. Russell is going to have to carry the load, especially since speedsters like Sulette Damons are no longer on the team

UNITED STATES
World ranking: 5
How they got here: World ranking
Key players: Jackie Briggs, G; Rachel Dawson, M/D; Emily Wold, M; Jill Witmer, F; Katie O’Donnell, F; Paige Selenski, F; Kat Sharkey, F; Kelsey Kolojejchick, F; Lauren Crandall, D
Outlook: The United States is no longer the “surprise package” that it was during the 2014 FIH World Cup. The American side is blessed with five players who are comfortable in the attacking third of the field. Problem is, they all can’t be on the pitch at the same time. Defensively, Crandall, Dawson, and Briggs have been great at times over the last four years. One player also to keep an eye on is Alyssa Manley, the Syracuse University rising senior.

URUGUAY
World ranking: 29
How they got here: Qualified through World League Round 2
Key players: Sofia Mora D/M; Rosanna Paselle, G; Agustina Nieto, D; Janine Stanley, F
Outlook: Uruguay may play hard, and they may have players with talent (Stanley, for example, was named to the 2011 PAHF all-star team without having played in the Pan American Games), but this team will be the wooden spoon at the end of pool play. Just too much of a gulf in class.

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