Team USA took the pitch against Korea, one of the most successful teams in Women’s Junior World Cup history, having participated in all editions thus far and finishing on top in 2001 and 2005. Despite Korea’s previous impressive record at the tournament, Team USA was able to break a 1-1 halftime score and finish the game 4-1.
Although first half Cup play bantered back and forth from end line to end line, Korea held more ball possession. Korea was able to maneuver past Team USA’s defensive line and score when Eun Bi Cheon used a deflection from the bottom left corner in 29th minute mark pulling the team ahead 1-0.
The U.S. wasted no time in responding to the competition’s goal. Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) found the back of the cage in 30th minute with a rapid restart and baseline pass from Maxine Fluharty (Millsboro, Del). With only a few minutes into the second half lighting and thunder belted from the sky creating a delay in the match.
“We caught a lot of momentum during the timeout for the lighting delay,” said Steve Jennings head coach of the U.S. U-21 National Squad. “It gave us time to become really relaxed, settled and calm, having fun instead of being in a stressed environment. We didn’t really talk too much hockey at that point, just a few key points, and once we got back on the field we were really ready to go.”
Once the rain cleared the USA goals poured in. Anna Dessoye (Mountain Top, Pa.) started a flow of scoring in the 48th minute by breaking the tie with a hard shot past the keeper. The next beautiful goal came from Emma Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) in the 57th minute with a reserve chip after rebounding an initial corner shot. Vittese closed the game in the 60th minute defeating the Koreans in the first round of Junior World Cup pool play.
“Once we took a 2-1 lead, I think we grew in confidence,” said Jennings. “The Koreans played with more panic in their game and that just played more and more in our hands and we were able to capitalize. It was a great result today.”
“Beating a team with such a great history at the Junior World Cup such as Korea puts us in a good place at the start of the tournament,” said Vittese. “We look to continue this type of play as we move forward in the Cup.”
Team USA will take the pitch again on July 28 against the Netherlands and will finish pool play against Ghana on July 30. The quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, August 1, the semi-finals on August 2 and the gold and bronze medal match on August 4. (Schedule and more news here)