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BULLETIN: Argentina 4, USA 0

Given the number of players who retired from the U.S. women’s national field hockey team since Rio last year, it was expected that the learning curve of international hockey from some very young players thrown into the side would be very steep, especially against the defending World League champions, Argentina.

Today’s 4-0 win by Argentina shows just how far the young Americans have to go in order to remain competitive within the Pan American Hockey Federation, much less the world stage.

The United States started slow and seemed to be content to let Argentina have the ball, completely opposite of the “first tackle, first foul, first shot, first goal” ethic of the past decade. The States had exactly one shot on goal all game.

The results after Matchday Four of the World League has confirmed the fates of a number of teams. In Pool A, Poland will not advance to the quarterfinals, having lost all four of its matches. Pool A positioning is incredibly fluid, with Japan, Ireland, Germany, and England all capable of finishing in multiple different permutations after Sunday’s final day of pool play.

In Pool B, Argentina and the United States have both qualified for the quarterfinal round. Argentina needs a win or draw against India to take the top spot and to confirm the United States as second in the pool. India would have to beat Argentina and the States would have to lose to South Africa for the USA to finish third in Pool B.

Here’s why this is important: the pool crossover round next Tuesday is a double “tipping point” match; winning a quarterfinal not only gets you into the World League final later this year, but also qualifies a team directly into next year’s FIH World Cup.

At the end of today, here’s how the pools match up:

Pool A Rank Pool B
JPN 1 ARG
ENG 2 USA
IRL 3 IND
GER 4 CHI

The thing to remember here is that the four Pool A teams are within three points of each other, and, theoretically, could finish just about in any of several permutations.

But the most advantageous scenario for the Applebees is this: if Japan beats Germany and if England beats or ties Ireland, the United States will cross over against Ireland, the 15th-ranked team in the world and lowest-ranked in Pool A.

Alternatively, if Germany beats Japan by three goals or more and if the England-Ireland match does not result in a draw, then the States will take on 11th-ranked Japan, a team the USA beat 6-1 in the Olympics a year ago.

Otherwise, the Americans could wind up playing the Olympic champions (England, which filled out the entirety of Team GB’s roster) or a German side ranked seventh in the world.

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