LONDON, England – June 22, 2013 – The U.S. opened their World Cup qualifying campaign against familiar Pan American rivals, Argentina. The No. 2 ranked team and 2012 Olympic silver medalists, Argentina, are the highest positioned team at the World League Semi-Final in London.
In the last two major international competitions, Team USA has come away victorious against Argentina, further intensifying the long established rivalry. Rewind back to October 2011. The then No. 13 world ranked U.S. Team upset the No. 1 Argentinians, 4-2, in the gold medal match of the Pan American Games. The monumental victory earned Team USA a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games. Then, in London last summer the U.S. did it again, upsetting the Argentines, 1-0, at the Olympics.
Back in London nearly one-year later, Team USA was close to a three-peat performance. Team USA disrupted Argentina’s game plan and held the top ranked team scoreless for 67 minutes before Argentina’s Rosario Luchetti scored the game winning goal with a deflection on a penalty corner.
Parnham commented on the friendly rivalry between the U.S. and Argentina after the match saying it is always a close game between the two opponents and they know each other very well.
“We were able to hold some really great possession and get around Argentina’s very good press,” said captain Katie O’Donnell. “The score didn’t necessary reflect how well we played and there are a lot of great things to take away from this game that we will use going forward in the tournament.”
O’Donnell drew the first penalty corner of the match in the 10th minute for Team USA’s first major scoring opportunity. Possession shifted back and forth and was even throughout much of the first 5 minutes. Before the end of the first half, Team USA looked comfortable and confident and pressured Argentina’s defense. However, both teams entered halftime still looking to put a goal on the board.
The U.S. drew another penalty corner in the 40th minute but unfortunately was unable to get a shot off. Young striker Jill Witmer (Lancaster, Pa.) used her speed to carry the ball into USA’s attacking end and earned a third penalty corner for the U.S. Rachel Dawson’s (Berlin, N.J.) drag flick was saved and O’Donnell was ready for the rebound at the post, but couldn’t get a full stick on the ball for the deflection.
With less than three minutes on the clock, Argentina earned their second penalty corner of the match. Luchetti’s deflection into the net secured the 1-0 victory for Argentina.
2012 Olympian and U.S. midfielder Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) played in her 100th match for Team USA today, a remarkable accomplishment for any player; but particularly impressive for Gonzalez who joined the National Team and made her first appearance with Team USA in 2010. She is one of only six members currently on the National Team with over 100 caps to her name.
“I cherish each cap and consider it a great honor to play for my country,” said Gonzalez. “I am so grateful to be a part of this team and am grateful to be given the opportunity to play alongside and against the best of the best. If I get to another 100 (caps) I would be extremely fortunate and happy.”
The U.S. will face Italy tomorrow for the second World League Semi-Final match-up in pool play. The No. 17 world ranked Italy opened the tournament this morning against No. 7 China and was close to upsetting the Chinese with a narrow 2-1 loss. The World League Semi-Final is being held at the University of Westminster Sports Ground in Chiswick, West London and takes place June 22-30. Watch Team USA live in London on the International Hockey Federation’s YouTube channel. For World League Semi-Final news, results, photos and more, visit usafieldhockey.com or follow @USAFieldHockey on Twitter and Instagram.