Late goals end defensive battle between USA Field Hockey and Chile in a 1-1 tie Saturday [video]
As Erin Matson sped toward the baseline, she flipped the ball around her back and into the circle. The fans at Spooky Nook Sports were eagerly awaiting the first goal from the U.S. women's field hockey team, but instead, the ball bounced across the front of the cage without connecting with another American stick.
The play may have happened midway through the first quarter Saturday, but the near-miss would come to characterize most of the night against Chile. The series finale became a d efensive battle with neither team able to crack the scoreboard until the final eight minutes.
While Team USA maintained possession for most of the game, the final score was much more evenly matched â" a 1-1 tie.
Saturday's game marks the second draw of the series, after a 2-2 final in the opener on Monday. Team USA broke through offensively in Games 2 and 3, winning 6-0 and 5-1, respectively.
âI think our final pass, final skill to goal was not 100 percent,â said U.S. coach Janneke Schopman. âWe created enough opportunities, but the difference between this game and maybe Wednesday is that the first three opportunities Wednesday, two were goals and today, the first three you don't have a goal so you play a little bit against yourself at some point. I don't think it was bad, but we lacked a little bit of craft and a little bit of fluidity almost in the end phase.â
The chances continued for Team USA in the sec ond quarter with the game's first corner four minutes into the period. Ali Froede's sweep fell wide of the cage, however, as did Caitlin Van Sickle's backhander minutes later.
Former Lancaster-Lebanon League standouts Alyssa Manley and Jill (Witmer) Funk got in on the action in the third quarter, but could not break the goal line either.
Manley, a Warwick graduate, fired off a reverse in the opening minutes of the quarter, but Chile's Claudia Schuler was there to kick it away. Midway through the period, Kat Sharkey pushed the ball ahead to Funk, but the ball bounded out of bounds before she could redirect it.
Two minutes later, the duo tried again, but without a clear shot, Funk sent the ball back toward the top of the circle. Chile intercepted the pass, but was unable to capitalize before the final horn sounded.
While Team USA kept creating opportunities, Chile could not get anything through the U.S. defense. Held behind the 25-yard-line for most of the game, the only real looks Las Diablas got came via penalty corners.
âChile is a very crafty team,â said Manley. âThey go with speed and they're able to use one-touch passes, so we're just working on being able to stay in front of them and get those strong step ups so that we can get to the ball before them.â
The strategy worked as Schopman noted âa lot of growthâ from the defense and singled out Manley's play, but it all came down to penalty corners Saturday night.
There it is, goal Team USA! Caitlin Van Sickle deflects the penalty corner in to put the US up 1-0 over Chile. 8:09 left to play. pic.twitter.com/6wCtizWPUyâ" Diana Pugliese (@dianapugs) April 14, 2018
Team USA earned its third corner with just over eight minutes to play, taking a 1-0 lead as Van Sickle deflected Sharkey's shot into the back of the net.
While chants of U-S-A were breaking out in the bleachers, however, Chile marched down the field and earned four consecutive corners. Just like last summer's Pan American Cup, Las Diablas made the last shot count as Denise Krimerman tied the game with her drag flick.
The U.S. got one final shot with 1:46 left on the clock as Sharkey was tackled from behind, earning a penalty stroke. Melissa Gonzalez stepped up to take the shot, but again the strike went wide.
âThat's great learning for us,â Schopman said of Chile's late comeback. â(We're) back learning. We've done a lot of good stuff this week and it's very pleasing to see, but there's stuff we need to do better.â
Chile earns four consecutive corners and makes this last one count. Denise Krimerman ties the game 1-1 with 6:16 to play. pic.twitter.com/OtoiEuAznDâ" Diana Pugliese (@dianapugs) April 15, 2018
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