USA Field Hockey and women's national team coach Lee Bodimeade have announced the U.S. team for the AtaHolding Champions Challenge, 9-17 June in Baku, Azerbaijan.
A combination of veteran players and some of the country's brightest young stars, the USA team will face China, England, Korea, New Zealand and host Azerbaijan in the biennial event.
"The AtaHolding Champions Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for us," said Bodimeade who will turn the team over to coach Pam Bustin for the event. "It gives us the chance to expose a number of players to international competition and a major tournament, something that we have not been able to do in the past. We now have a degree of player depth within the national squad and these players will be expected to do well and help in increasing the number of players that can perform on the international stage."
The USA team includes ten members from the USA's 2006 World Cup team including Goalkeeper of the Tournament and WorldHockey All-Star goalkeeper Amy Tran (Grantville, Pa.). Recipient of five Goalkeeper of the Tournament awards at international events over the past two years, Tran most recently earned the honor at the Chile Four Nation Tournament where she helped the USA win the tournament title with a 1-0 shutout victory over world No. 2 ranked Argentina.
The team also includes World Cup veterans Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Sarah Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), April Fronzoni (Larksville, Pa.), Melissa Leonetti (Erdenheim, Pa.), Lauren Powley (Montaintop, Pa.), Dina Rizzo (Walpole, Mass.), Sara Silvetti (Wapwallopen, Pa.) and Tiffany Snow (Escondido, Calif.).
Snow scored three goals at the Chile 4 Nation Tournament to tie for the team lead and is one of eight U.S. players returning from the 2005 Champions Challenge. Also back for a second Champions Challenge are Sarah Dawson, Leonetti, Powley, Rizzo, Silvetti, Tran and Lauren Crandall (Doyelstown, Pa.).
Dana Sensenig (Denver, Pa.) will make her third international tour for the USA and will be joined by Chile Four Nation Tournament teammate Claire Laubach (Bristow, Va.) and goalkeeper Jill Dedman (Orange, Conn.)
The tournament marks the National Team debuts for Vianney Campos (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Laura Suchowski (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) and will serve as the second international tours for Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.) and Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, Va.). All four athletes were collegiate All-America first team selections in 2006 with Campos earning the honors at the Univ. of the Pacific, Suchowski at Duke Univ., Kasold at Wake Forest Univ. and Nichols at Old Dominion Univ.
Pam Bustin will serve as head coach of the USA at the AtaHolding Champions Challenge
The head coach at the Univ. of Louisville, Bustin will lead the team at the event after previously serving as an assistant coach of the USA at the 2006 World Cup Qualifier in Rome, the USA's 2007 Netherlands Tour and various other international tournaments and selection camps. Bustin was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team and a National Team member from 1989-96.
Joining Bustin on the USA staff, Tracey Fuchs will serve as assistant coach at the event. The Associate Head Coach at the Univ. of Michigan, Fuchs also serves as head coach of the U.S. Under-21 squad and was USA Field Hockey's National Coach of the Year in 2005. Fuchs is a two-time Olympian and in the USA's all-time leader in international caps with 268. She competed in two Champions Challenge tournaments in 2002 and 2003.
The Champions Challenge has become a family tradition with the Dawson family. With Rachel Dawson's appearance at the tournament, she will become the third Dawson sibling to compete in the event since it was established in 2002. Rachel joins sister Sarah at this year's Challenge with older sister Natalie appearing in the 2002 event in Randburg, South Africa.
The USA is the only country to appear in each of the three previous Champions Challenge tournaments which traditionally features teams ranked 7-12 in the international standings. The USA placed fifth in each of the three previous events and hosted the 2005 Champions Challenge in Virginia Beach.
Vianney Campos, Lauren Crandall, Rachel Dawson, Sarah Dawson, Jill Dedman (GK), Katelyn Falgowski, April Fronzoni, Michelle Kasold, Claire Laubach, Melissa Leonetti, Caroline Nichols, Lauren Powley, Dina Rizzo, Dana Sensenig, Sara Silvetti, Tiffany Snow, Laura Suchoski, Amy Tran (GK).
Head Coach: Pam Bustin. Assistant Coach: Tracey Fuchs.
Source: USA Field Hockey
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