The U.S. will face Argentina, June 18-23 in Virginia. Michelle Vittese recounts the biggest victory in
USA Field Hockey history and focuses on having fun and playing freely in upcoming series
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – It’s the type of loss you don’t forget.
Six-time Pan American Games champions Argentina, faced five-time silver medalists U.S. Women’s National Team in Guadalajara, Mexico last November. Unlike previous years, the U.S. rewrote the ending with a swift upset against the Las Leonas. The prize was much heavier than a medal. The victor secured their place in the 2012 London Olympics. Although Argentina was invited to the Summer Olympics based on their world ranking after South Africa gave up their direct berth, the loss to No. 13 ranked U.S. still stings.
The U.S.’s final preparation before competing on the vivid pink and blue London pitch has come full circle. Their last round of matches is against Argentina June 18-23 in Virginia. Even months after the Pan American Games, emotions are still raw. The memories of the fall will serve as fuel for both teams as they meet for one last series before heading to Europe next month.
Usafieldhockey.com caught up with Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, NJ) who scored the final goal in Pan American Games to secure the win in the 66th minute. Vittese was one of 16-players to be named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Field Hockey Team on Monday. She was also recently named 2011 Player of the Year at the Women’s National Championship in College Park, MD.
Recount with us your thoughts after beating Argentina 4 -2 last fall in what is arguably the biggest upset in U.S. Women’s Field Hockey history.
MV: That was arguably the biggest upset in U.S. Women’s Field Hockey. My thoughts after beating Argentina ranged from complete happiness to extreme gratification. I felt complete in a sense. I felt fulfilled, proud and honored to have been a part of such a paramount moment in U.S. Field Hockey history.
Following the loss to the U.S., Argentina’s midfielder Luciana Aymar, is quoted as saying in an ESPN article: “Right now this team is in pain. The United States is not at our level, but they have improved a lot. These things happen to all teams.” How does this perception of the Pan American Games being a fluke play to the U.S.’s advantage going into June 18th’s match-up and beyond?
MV: Argentina is such an incredible team with so many talented players, with Aymar being one of them. Luciana is one of the most decorated field hockey players of all time. That statement reflects how she feels. They obviously view us as a growing program and believe that they are more deserving. I think that it plays directly into our hands. They are, of course, extremely talented but so are we. This test series will prepare us for our inevitable meeting in the approaching Olympic Games. Each game will be determined by who puts the best performance on the field.
What’s running through your mind as the team faces Argentina again?
MV: My thoughts are more focused on the process; the process of each given moment, the process of each game situation. With 43 days until the Olympic Games the team will have to build and really start to put the important pieces together. I think it will be a great test to see where we stand and what needs further building.
Where is the team in terms of preparation for the Olympics?
MV: In terms of preparation, I think the team is exactly where we are supposed to be. We are working hard, each individually completing the workout programs and preparing for our next step together.
What do you look to capitalize on before heading into the Olympics?
MV: Personally, I hope to put myself in the best situation possible to be successful. I want to be the fittest I can possibly be, I want to be the healthiest I can possibly be and I want to be the happiest I can possibly be. I want to understand each of my opponents. I want to be able to understand their structure, the way they defend, the way they outlet the ball and assess their players. I want to be able to control everything that is controllable, so I can move forward fully prepared. Without preparation, there will be no success.
What’s the difference between the U.S. team who competed in the fall against Argentina to the U.S. team now?
MV: Due to injuries, Kayla Bashore-Smedley (Shoemakersville, Pa) and Amy Swenson (Grantville, Pa) were unable to compete in the Pan Am Games. Keli Smith-Puzo (Selinsgrove, Pa) was also unable to compete because she had her second baby, Ian. They are back and extremely integral parts of the 16-person team headed to London. They all have over 150 caps and bring a high level of skill, experience, leadership and personality to the group.
What are your personal goals for this series?
MV: For the upcoming matches against Argentina, I want to let go and just play. I am the type of player that really performs when I am having fun and playing freely. I want to connect with my teammates and really help drive this team forward.
All nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee board of directors.
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