July 28, 2013 – Despite the cooler temperatures in Germany, competition only heated up at the ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach’s Hockeypark Stadium. The U.S. Women’s Under-21 National Team’s second round of Pool A play was against the Netherlands, a team with comparable tournament accolades of previous USA competitor Korea, having been crowned Junior World Cup Champions in 1997 and in 2009.
Although a display of relentless performance, USA earned one lone goal to Netherlands five. Netherlands captain Renske Siersema scored off of a straight shot during a penalty corner in the first two minutes of the game, setting a high tempo tone for the duration of the match, a pace which Team USA challenged and met.
“I think we’re all not pleased with our opening minutes but then we got into the flow of the game and actually played on the front foot,” said Steve Jennings Women’s U-21 National Team head coach. “The key for us is to learn how to do that without conceding and then really keep the game in our hands instead of having the feeling like you’re going uphill.”
Siersema managed another goal after a penalty stroke against USA keeper Samantha Carlino (Kennett Square, Pa.) with a strong aerial to the left pocket just out of the goalie’s reach. The Netherlands scored three more times two of which were on corners. Netherlands Samantha Saxton lit up the scoreboard with a reverse chip in the 28th minute while Siersema tallied her third goal in the 42th minute. Throughout the game, Team USA held a staunch defensive line and tightened up play as the match progressed, intercepting and creating combinations that lead to a USA goal in the 45th minute. Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) deflected a solid pass from teammate Teresa Benvenuti (Morristown, N.J.) on a corner to give USA a goal. Team USA built another number of scoring opportunities but couldn’t quite capitalize in the attack circle. Marloes Keetels rounded out the game with Netherlands’ last goal in the 70th minute.
“I thought to our credit we never played to the score line,” said Jennings. “We played the game and I think that helped us establish some great passing patterns, excellent attack and some opportunities to get goals in the second half that were close but just not quite there.”
“We were feeling out the phases of the game and when we were given the opportunity to be really aggressive we took it,” said USA Captain Laura Gebhart. “We all started stepping up as a team and it was all just getting a better read on our opponents to counter their play. There are a lot of growing points in this match, for instance taking care of possession and just having those support passes all around the ball. This was a great game for that and we want to take what we learned from this game and bring it into our next match.”
Team USA 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 (More news and detailed schedule here).