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Nov. 26, 2016 — A tenuous grasp on the second round

Four years ago, the U.S. women’s junior national field hockey team met the defending champions, Holland, in the opening round of the Junior World Cup, losing 5-1.

Yesterday, the current batch of U-21s for the United States got off on the front foot against the two-time defending Junior World Cup champions thanks to a penalty corner goal from the stick of Cat Caro. But Holland took the lead on a pair of quick goals less than three minutes from the interval, then held onto the ball for nearly the entire second half to run out 5-1 winners.

The States got off to a good start in the Junior World Cup with a 10-0 win over Zimbabwe last Thursday, getting braces from Ashley Hoffman, captain Nicole Woods, and indoor phenom Erin Matson, who didn’t play a single minute of varsity field hockey this past fall, choosing to train full-time for this tournament.

One might have expected the Applebees to carry forward this momentum, especially after Caro’s early goal against the Netherlands. Indeed, there were times when Holland could have been had in the game; the States had an open goal about halfway through the first term but couldn’t put it in, and Holland goalie Josine Koning made a fine save on a U.S. corner situation in which the Dutch defense appeared to be disorganized.

Immediately after these situations, however, the Oranje struck with deadly intention. Corners by Ilse Kappelle and Yentl Leemans gave Holland a 3-1 lead and, in the second half, gave the American side a lesson in ball possession. Instead of parking the bus on defense, Holland simply parked the bus on offense, keeping the ball and making the States chase. Two further penalty corner goals sealed the result.

The U.S., in order to escape Group A, the Group of Death, only need a win or a draw tomorrow against Korea in order to go through to the quarterfinal round. Korea, however, won this tournament in 2001 and 2005.

The United States is looking to improve on its seventh-place finish four years ago at Moenchengladbach, Germany.

 

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