USA Women’s national team head coach Lee Bodimeade will get a good look at his entire squad when the USA hosts Olympic-bound Japan 7-13 October at the University of Maryland.
Bodimeade will liberally use all 25 members of the team’s active roster during the five-game series as the USA begins its preparations for one of April’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. The USA will be assigned to one of three Olympic Qualifiers and will need to win the six-team tournament to earn a spot in Beijing.
“One of the benefits of playing a home series is that you don't have to limit your playing group to 18 players and you get the opportunity to see the progress of a large percentage of your squad,” said Bodimeade who will select teams of 16 players for each match of the Japan series. “With the possibility of our Olympic qualifier being in April next year, there are limited opportunities for players to present their case for selection between now and the qualifier, and then for the Olympic Games should we qualify. Japan is arguably the form team in the world at the moment after their win in the Asia Cup and they will provide the ideal opposition for us to gauge how well our players going.”
The games at Maryland mark a homecoming for USA team members Dina Rizzo, Lauren Powley and Keli Smith who played their college careers for the Terps. USA national team member Katie O'Donnell is currently a freshman with the Terps and is expected to see action for the USA during the series. Another Maryland alumna, Sara Silvetti will miss the series while recovering from injury. Bodimeade will call up Univ. of North Carolina senior Jesse Gey (Greenlane, Pa.) from the USA’s developmental squad to complete the USA roster.
“Playing at home is we can also expose some players that we believe may have a future at the international level,” said Bodimeade on the opportunity to play young players at the event. “They can witness first hand what it is like to play against one of the top five teams in the world.”
In addition to Gey, Bodimeade will have a full compliment of the U.S. team’s current college players available for matches during the series including Rachel Dawson (Univ. of North Carolina), Kaitlyn Falgowski (Univ. of North Carolina), Michelle Kasold (Wake Forest Univ.) and O’Donnell (Univ. of Maryland).
“The added advantage that we have for this home series is that we have received, once again, tremendous support from the college coaches and respective colleges, enabling us to select players that are in the middle of their college seasons,” said Bodemeade. “Being able to have these players involved helps the individuals continue to develop at the international level, but also enables us to work on our offensive and defensive structures, with these players involved.”
In one of international field hockey's newest and most competitive rivalries, the USA and Japan have met 16 times since 2000 including a 1-0 Japan win in the 5th/6th place game at the 2006 World Cup and an epic USA victory in penalty strokes in the 9th/10th place game at the 2002 World Cup. Japan qualified for the Olympic Games as the quota team from Asia following a second place finish at the 2006 Asia Games.
The series marks a return of international field hockey to the Maryland campus after last year's AstroTurf March on Madrid tournament featuring the USA, Argentina, the Netherlands and Australia. Maryland will also host the 2007 NCAA I national semifinals and final, 16 and 18 November.
“We are excited to get the opportunity to play such a top class opponent on home soil and are looking forward to getting back to Maryland to play,” says Bodimeade. “We broke our 17 year drought against Argentina at College Park last year and we will be looking for similar good results at this venue - certainly with a little bit of home town support behind us.”
Matches for the Japan series are scheduled for 7, 8, 10, 12 and 13 October at the University of Maryland.
Source: USA Field Hockey
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