England’s first game at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 saw them face the ever improving USA, who are currently ranked number 10 in the world. And despite the seven ranking places between the two sides [England at number three] it was in fact the USA who came out on top to take the three points with a 2-1 victory.
The USA came into the tournament off the back of a great win in the Champions Challenge back in April and they looked like a side in form across the first 35 minutes as they scored twice from penalty corners through Paige Selenski [making her 100th appearance for the USA] and Kelsey Kolojejchick. England created chances and had several penalty corners, but Jackie Kintzer in the USA goal stopped everything that came at her.
Kintzer and her defence were under pressure for much of the second half and eventually England found a way through with Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh on target from a penalty corner. Despite pushing hard and even switching to 11 outfield players right at the end the USA held on to their advantage to seal the victory and take the three points.
When asked about England’s performance, England Head Coach, Jason Lee said, “We’re very disappointed with the result. I don’t think it has to derail our ambitions for the rest of the tournament, in many ways it focuses our minds a little bit more as we’re running out of slip room. Fundamentally we didn’t start particularly well. The first ten minutes didn’t reflect our ability at all. America took two well worked corners and from then on we were chasing the game. I think we created a lot of good opportunities. Their corner defence was good but on another day we might have taken our chances and won the game.”
“I felt quite confident at half time we would score goals and hoped we’d get enough but it wasn’t to be. I think we’ve learned that how we start is crucial and as I said it could’ve done us a favour because we now have no choice in the second game, we have to hit our straps from the first second.” he further added.
England Captain, Kate Richardson-Walsh said when asked if nerves got the better of the team today, “We’ve played in front of big crowds before. Lots of our players have played in important tournaments at the Europeans and the World League so they’re used to playing big games in front of big crowds. We need to look at ourselves individually and start games, as Jason said, at full pace, full tilt and go for it from the off.”
“You always know if you come to Holland it’s a great place to play. The whole nation supports hockey. The set-up is fantastic, the pitch is great, and the hotel is good. Everything is good, we need to go out and do our jobs and perform in the next game against China and I’m looking forward to that.” she added about playing at the World Cup in the Netherlands.
USA Head Coach [Ex-England assistant coach], Craig Parnham said about the changes he brought in team, “I’ve not done anything too remarkable really. It’s just a case of changing the way we train. We have more time on the pitch, more access to players and just being able to get things done the way we want. I have a fantastic group of players with a great spirit and energy. They work hard every day and it pays off. We’re far from the finished article but we’re going in the right direction.”