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Archive for July 20, 2017

July 20, 2017 — Revenge-minded USA takes penultimate step

Because of the length of time between major competitions in international field hockey, rare is the time can a team exercise a measure of revenge for a previous defeat.

The United States women, in the FIH World League semifinals in Johannesburg, are embarking on a bit of a revenge tour for what happened to them last year in Rio. Today, the States got a measure of revenge from last year’s Olympic pool play defeat at the hands of Team GB, beating the England national team 2-1 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation.

The win takes the Applebees to the final of this World League semifinal tournament against Germany, the very team that knocked them out of the Olympics a year ago.

In the shootout, it was the former Connecticut star Melissa Gonzalez, the team captain, who was the difference, beating Maddie Hinch in the first and in the sixth rounds of the shootout. Sarah Haycroft answered for England, which, aside from retirements and injury, was essentially the same team that won the Rio Olympics wearing Team GB uniforms.

The English certainly played like Olympic champions for much of regulation, bottling up the midfield and pipping a goal from Hannah Martin to take the lead just after quarter-time. But the Three Lions made a key mistake late on. An obvious pushing foul five minutes from time sent Lily Owsley to the penalty bench for the balance of regulation.

On the yellow-card opportunity, Michelle Vittese, once again playing her best in the biggest games, penetrated the circle on the left wing and drove a ball that Hinch spilled into the goalmouth. Jill Witmer, the leading scorer in the tournament, had nobody between herself and the juicy rebound, and she made no mistake to level the match.

The result represented the first time the States have ever made it this far in a World League semifinal, but it’s one of the rare times that the United States has ever made it to the championship final of an FIH world-level event.

USA 0 0 0 1 – 100001 — 2
ENG 0 1 0 0 – 000010 — 1
ENG: Hannah Martin (Sophie Bray), fg, 16th minute
USA: Jill Witmer (Michelle Vittese), fg, 57th
Shootout goals- USA: Michelle Gonzalez 2; ENG: Sarah Haycroft 1
Shots- USA: 6; ENG: 2. Saves- USA: Jackie Briggs 1; ENG: Maddie Hinch 5.