The first of a series of five test matches between the women’s teams of USA and Argentina ended in a draw (1-1) and a victory for Argentina (5-3) in Washington DC, USA.
The USA National Team fell to Argentina, 5-3, in the second game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC.
'I think it was a competitive game,' said Assistant Coach Steve Jennings. 'Argentina is ranked number two in the world, so it's a positive sign that we're in the thick of the game until the final minutes. I like the way we've jumped out to the lead in each game.'
'I think it was a great fight, as always,' said team captain Carrie Lingo. 'But there were pockets of time where we didn't play well and they capitalized on those opportunities.'
Michelle Kasold opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a strike past Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi.
'The center defender bobbled the ball, so I went for the tackle and got it,' said Kasold. 'I was already in the circle, and I looked up and it was just me and the goalkeeper, so I shot it.'
Argentina responded with two quick penalty corner goals only minutes apart, both from Alexandra Gulla.
Keli Smith tied to game again just before halftime, scoring tip-in from the corner of the goal as a shot from Kayla Bashore went across the circle.
'It was a beautiful ball from Kayla,' said Smith. 'I happened to be in the right place at the right time. She put a great ball to the far post, and that's where I was.'
Smith made her first international appearance for the U.S. National Team since the birth of her son, Xavi, in January.
'It was my first game back in a year and a half,' said Smith. 'It was great to be back. I have a ways to go fitness-wise, but it feels good to be out there.'
Argentina scored two more penalty corner goals at the beginning of the send half to retake the lead, as Carla Rebecchi and Rosario Luchetti scored for Las Leonas.
Rachel Dawson tied the game again with a penalty corner goal for the USA in the 60th minute.
Argentina sealed the victory in the final minutes with another penalty corner goal, this time from Luciana Aymar. All five of Argentina's goals came from penalty corners. Despite today's results, the team has faith is the defense.
'We were unlucky,' said Jennings. 'Argentina had three broken penalty corners that wound up as goals. They were very creative in those chaotic situations. It creates a different variable that's much more difficult to defend.'
'I think Argentina got lucky a couple of times,' said Lingo. 'A couple slipped through.'
'We need to be tougher and get the rebounds out of the circle, because we had a stick on all of those chances before they went in,' said Jennings. 'We were there, but we just didn't clear it.'
'Our penalty corner defense is rock solid,' said Lingo.
The USA Women's National Team drew with Argentina, 1-1, in the first game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Katie O'Donnell scored for the USA.
The result is a promising start for the USA. This is the first international competition for the United States since they were defeated by Korea in the final of the AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier in March. Argentina, ranked number two in the world, are looking to fine-tune their play and build momentum as they host the 2010 World Cup in August.
'I'm very happy with the performance,' said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. 'There's a lot of ways this game could have gone that would have been less than we expected, so I'm please that we were able to come out and score first and play the way we did for large periods of time.'
'It was a good start for us,' said goalkeeper Amy Tran. 'We showed that even when times are tough, we're still going to come out put our hearts on the field. That's a really mature step for our team.'
The first half saw much of the action in the American defensive zone, as Argentina pressured for the first score. The defense held and a scoreless tie was the results at halftime. The USA finally opened the scoring almost immediately in the second half, as Katie O'Donnell eluded the Argentina defense to score.
'Katie Evans gave me a nice pass from the top of the circle,' said O'Donnell. 'I was able to eliminate one defender and lift the ball over the goalkeeper to the far post.'
The USA followed with four or five good scoring opportunities inside the circle, but was not able to capitalize. Argentina drew the game in the 47th minute, when Alexandria Gulla tipped in a penalty corner shot. Argentina had opportunities near the end of the game to take the lead, but was denied by Tran and the USA defense.
'It was one of the more physical matches we've played,' said Tran, 'and I don't think Argentina likes to play that way.'
'This is their best team,' said Bodimeade. 'They're training at their highest level to win the World Cup, and we're pissed off we didn't make the World Cup. When those two mentalities clash, you're going to have a genuine, physical contest like we had here today. To know Argentina brought that level of intensity to their game - and we didn't flinch in the face of that - is a really good sign.'
Bodimeade stressed the need for urgency with his team.
'One thing I've been critical about with the team,' said Bodimeade, 'is the mentality that we only really start to play when we're a goal down. I get the sense after the Qualifier that, as a program, we're a goal down.'
Marta Malmberg and Kelsey Kolojejchick earned their first cap. For Malmberg's part, she was frequently tasked with defending Argentina's Luciana Aymar, five-time winner of the World Hockey Player of the Year Award and one of the sport's iconic figures.
'I had to think of her as any other player, even though she's obviously a great player,' said Malmberg. 'I gave her the space she deserved, but didn't let her get away with too much.'
Source: USA Field Hockey
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