Clash in the Capital: USA vs Argentina

The USA Women's National Team faced the 2008 Olympic Games bronze medal winners Argentina in a five-game test series at American University in Washington. The following are the daily press releases following each game, featuring coach and player interviews, posted to the USA Field Hockey website and distributed to local and national media outlets.

With this series, I attempted to incorporate as many outlets as possible. In addition to the press releases and photos available on the main website, live game updates were posted to Twitter, exclusive blogs from players and photos were posted to Facebook, and game highlights were posted to YouTube.

All photos are mine, as well.



Argentina 5, USA 1

Match Sheet >>



WASHINGTON DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team fell to Argentina today, 5-1, in the final game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Michelle Kasold scored for the USA.

"I think in the last two games Argentina stepped up their performance and their ball-handling and they took the game away from us," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade.

Argentina opened the scoring quickly, with two goals in the first ten minutes. In the 6th minute, Rosario Luchetti tipped a shot from the edge of the circle that lofted over goalkeeper Amy Tran's head and into the goal for the first score. Some crisp passing by the Argentina offense in the circle found Mariela Scarone at the far post where she netted the second goal.

As the USA began to build offensively, the Argentina defense disrupted the attacks inside the scoring circle.

"It was unfortunate that we had a deficit early on, because we were moving the ball crisper and more efficiently than we had in earlier matches," said Assistant Coach Steve Jennings. "But Argentina is good. They set the standard today."

Alexandra Gulla added a penalty corner for Argentina just before the end of the first half.

In the 45th minute, Delfina Merino received a pass all the way from the far corner into the circle, where she tipped it in for the fourth Argentina goal.

The USA broke through in the 56th minute, when Michelle Kasold beat Argentina goalkeeper Laura del Colle with a hard strike to the far post.

"When we moved simply and took care of our basics, we found we could develop an attack easily," said Jennings. "We really could get inside the attacking area. We showed a lot of heart. We learned we can score and finish; we scored in every match, and took the lead in several games. That was really healthy for us, to show we could score goals against one of the best teams in the world."

Argentina added another penalty corner goal from Alexandra Gulla in the 59th minute to cap the scoring.

Terry Walsh, USA Field Hockey Technical Director of High Performance, was duly impressed with Argentina's level of play. While the USA is introducing new players to international competition, Argentina is honing its game for one of the world's top competitions, the Women's World Cup in August.

"That is the best form I've ever seen from Argentina," said Walsh. "That's a great credit to them. I don't know how they will sustain that form all the way to the Women's World Cup. I hope for they sake they do. If they continue, Argentina will certainly be a medallist at the Women's World Cup and they will really press the Dutch for the gold."

The next phase of preparation is for the 2011 Pan American Games, where the champion will automatically qualify for the 2012 Olympics. The USA's chief rival at the Pan Ams will be - again - Argentina.

"It's a goal that's not going to move," said Bodimeade. "We're going to focus on that now. After the Women's National Championship in June, we'll be in a better position to begin our preparations, because right now the disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup is still hanging over our heads."

"The heartbreak of not reaching the Women's World Cup has now reached its endpoint and it's done," said Walsh. "This is the completion of that phase."

Umpires for this match were Maggie Giddens and Suzi Sutton.


Argentina 3, USA 1

Match Sheet >>


WASHINGTON DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team fell to Argentina today, 3-1, in the fourth game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Katie O'Donnell scored for the USA.

Argentina opened the scoring in the 14th minute, as Josefina Sruoga put a field goal past USA goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer. Less than two minutes later, Delfina Merina scored to give Argentina a quick two goal lead.

"We started slowly, there's no doubt," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "We didn't carry the same intensity in this game that we did in the three previous games. I don't know the reason for it right now. The pressure of playing five games against the world #2 brings a heightened emotional state."

Carla Rebecchi added a third goal at the beginning of the second half.

A yellow card for Argentina's Delfina Merino in the 59th minute led to a man advantage for the USA. Coaches implored the USA to push forward offensively, and in the 62nd minute, Katie O'Donnell was able to capitalize. O'Donnell received the ball at the middle of the field and eluded half the Argentina defense on her way to the scoring circle, where she scored the lone goal for the USA.

"I got a pass from Katie Evans in the middle of the field," said O'Donnell, "and I heard Lauren Crandall shout from behind that there was a defender on me, so I just ran as fast as I could towards the circle. I took a shot - the goalie was cheating to the far post, so I hit it to the near post."

Umpires for this match were Stephanie Judefind and Gus Soteriades.

The final game of the five game series is Wednesday, May 19 at 4:30pm.


Argentina 4, USA 2

Match Sheet >>


WASHINGTON DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team fell to Argentina today, 4-2, in the third game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Kayla Bashore and Maren Ford scored for the USA.

The USA opened the scoring with two quick goals in the first five minutes, but Argentina was able to push forward and score three to close the first half. The second half was a much tighter contest, as Argentina added only one more goal.

"We executed early," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "It was great to get up 2-0, but from that point we needed to recognize Argentina got better, and we didn't respond. That is the difference between the two teams right now."

"We wanted to come out strong," said team vice captain Lauren Crandall. "We let down our intensity and they took some goals, but I'm happy with the way we played in the second half."

Kayla Bashore scored mere moments into the contest, sending a strike through the circle and past Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi.

"We had good pressure on their backfield," said Bashore. "We were able to get a turnover and I was in the circle. Katie O'Donnell was near the goal and I yelled for her to get out of the way before I shot it. We laughed about it later; I told her if she didn't move she was going to get hit."

Maren Ford scored five minutes later.

"I saw Claire Laubach move into the circle," said Ford, "and I just posted up and made myself a big target. Then I zinged it to the opposite post, knowing Katie Evans was there in case my shot went wide. We've been working on finishing in the circle."

But showing the skill and determination that makes them the number two ranked team in the world, Argentina patiently regained their form. Mariné Russo began the comeback in the 9th minute off a field goal.

Ten minutes later, would then continue its impressive performance in the penalty corner attack with a goal from Rosario Luchetti. Luciana Aymar added a third goal just before the half, which featured a flurry of passing through the circle by the Argentine offense to set up the goal shot.

"Their attack is very dangerous," said Crandall. "They have a lot of options. We do a good job defending the initial shot, but when there's a broken corner or free play, it’s tough. We need to look at that."  

"Essentially, it's an eight-vs-four situation," said goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer. "The offense is always going to have the numbers. We have to buy time until other defenders can get into the circle. Unfortunately, they're scoring some of their goals after the first shot. They're very good in that area. They find whoever's open."

After the halftime break, the USA returned to the field with a renewed attitude and mentality. The contest was much more even, although Luchetti would score another penalty corner goal from Argentina in 58th minute.

"The first half and second halves were almost two different games for us," said Maren Ford. "When the second half started, we said we're mentally tougher than we showed at the end of the first half. We made decisions and we stepped up. Sometimes we paid for that, but we definitely learned a lot overall."

Despite the rash of penalty corner goals, Bodimeade acknowledges that while the USA is steadily improving and adjusting, Argentina is fine-tuning as they prepare for the Women's World Cup in August.

"It's not a major concern for me at this point," said Bodimeade. "We're addressing other issues right now, and the defense will come later. Their penalty corner attack is one of the best in the world already, and they're refining it as they head into the World Cup. I'm comfortable with our defense at this point."

The umpires for this match were Maggie Giddens and Suzi Sutton.

The fourth game of the five-game series is Tuesday, May 18 at 6:00pm.


Argentina 5, USA 3

Match Sheet >>


WASHINGTON DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team fell to Argentina today, 5-3, in the second game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC.

"I think it was a competitive game," said Assistant Coach Steve Jennings. "Argentina is ranked number two in the world, so it's a positive sign that we're in the thick of the game until the final minutes. I like the way we've jumped out to the lead in each game."

"I think it was a great fight, as always," said team captain Carrie Lingo. "But there were pockets of time where we didn't play well and they capitalized on those opportunities."

Michelle Kasold opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a strike past Argentina goalkeeper Belen Succi.

"The center defender bobbled the ball, so I went for the tackle and got it," said Kasold. "I was already in the circle, and I looked up and it was just me and the goalkeeper, so I shot it."

Argentina responded with two quick penalty corner goals only minutes apart, both from Alexandra Gulla.

Keli Smith tied to game again just before halftime, scoring tip-in from the corner of the goal as a shot from Kayla Bashore went across the circle.

"It was a beautiful ball from Kayla," said Smith. "I happened to be in the right place at the right time. She put a great ball to the far post, and that's where I was."

Smith made her first international appearance for the National since the birth of her son, Xavi, in January.

"It was my first game back in a year and a half," said Smith. "It was great to be back. I have a ways to go fitness-wise, but it feels good to be out there."

Argentina scored two more penalty corner goals at the beginning of the send half to retake the lead, as Carla Rebecchi Rosario Luchetti scored for Las Leonas.

Rachel Dawson tied the game again with a penalty corner goal for the USA in the 60th minute.

Argentina sealed the victory in the final minutes with another penalty corner goal, this time from Luciana Aymar. All five of Argentina's goals came from penalty corners. Despite today's results, the team has faith is the defense.   

"We were unlucky," said Jennings. "Argentina had three broken penalty corners that wound up as goals. They were very creative in those chaotic situations. It creates a different variable that's much more difficult to defend."

"I think Argentina got lucky a couple of times," said Lingo. "A couple slipped through."

 "We need to be tougher and get the rebounds out of the circle, because had a stick on all of those chances before they went it," said Jennings. "We were there, but we just didn't clear it."

"Our penalty corner defense is rock solid," said Lingo.

The umpires for this match were Maggie Giddens and Suzi Sutton.

The third game of the five-game series is Sunday, May 16 at 2:00pm.



USA 1, Argentina 1

Match Sheet >>


WASHINGTON, DC - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team drew with Argentina today, 1-1, in the first game of a five game test series at American University in Washington DC. Katie O'Donnell scored for the USA.

The result is a promising start for the USA.  This is the first international competition for the United States since they were defeated by Korea in the final of the AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier in March. Argentina, ranked number two in the world, are looking to fine-tune their play and build momentum as they host the 2010 World Cup in August.

"I'm very happy with the performance," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "There's a lot of ways this game could have gone that would have been less than we expected, so I'm please that we were able to come out and score first and play the way we did for large periods of time."

"It was a good start for us," said goalkeeper Amy Tran. "We showed that even when times are tough, we're still going to come out put our hearts on the field. That's a really mature step for our team."

The first half saw much of the action in the American defensive zone, as Argentina pressured for the first score. The defense held and a scoreless tie was the results at halftime. The USA finally opened the scoring almost immediately in the second half, as Katie O'Donnell eluded the Argentina defense to score.

"Katie Evans gave me a nice pass from the top of the circle," said O'Donnell. "I was able to eliminate one defender and lift the ball over the goalkeeper to the far post."  

The USA followed with four or five good scoring opportunities inside the circle, but was not able to capitalize. Argentina drew the game in the 47th minute, when Alexandria Gulla tipped in a penalty corner shot. Argentina had opportunities near the end of the game to take the lead, but was denied by Tran and the USA defense.

"It was one of the more physical matches we've played," said Tran, "and I don't think Argentina likes to play that way."

"This is their best team," said Bodimeade. "They're training at their highest level to win the World Cup, and we're pissed off we didn't make the World Cup. When those two mentalities clash, you're going to have a genuine, physical contest like we had here today. To know Argentina brought that level of intensity to their game - and we didn't flinch in the face of that - is a really good sign."

Bodimeade stressed the need for urgency with his team.

"One thing I've been critical about with the team," said Bodimeade, "is the mentality that we only really start to play when we're a goal down. I get the sense after the Qualifier that, as a program, we're a goal down."  

Marta Malmberg and Kelsey Kolojejchick earned their first cap. For Malmberg's part, she was frequently tasked with defending Argentina's Luciana Aymar, five-time winner of the World Hockey Player of the Year Award and one of the sport's iconic figures.

"I had to think of her as any other player, even though she's obviously a great player," said Malmberg. "I gave her the space she deserved, but didn't let her get away with too much."

The umpires for this match were Maggie Giddens and Suzi Sutton.

The second game of the five-game series is Saturday, May 15 at 2:00pm.


USA Field Hockey Announces Roster for Argentina Series

April 29, 2010

USA Field Hockey and Head Coach Lee Bodimeade announced the names of the players who will represent the USA in a five-game test series against Argentina, scheduled from May 13 to 19 at American University in Washington DC.

The team features eight members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for Women's Field Hockey, including team captain Carrie Lingo and Amy Tran, regarded as one of the top women's goalkeepers in the world. The team also features five members of the 2009 Womens Junior World Cup Team. Lauren Crandall and Keli Smith have been named vice captains for the series.

The athletes selected for the Argentina test series are:

Kayla Bashore
Shoemakersville, PA
Lauren Crandall
Wake Forest
Doylestown, PA
Rachel Dawson
North Carolina
Berlin, NJ
Katie Evans
Newtown Square, PA
Maren Ford
Lewes, DE
Michelle Kasold
Wake Forest
Chapel Hill, NC
Jackie Kintzer
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC
Kelsey Kolojejchick
North Carolina
Larksville, PA
Claire Laubach
Wake Forest
Bristow, VA
Carrie Lingo
North Carolina
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Mia Link
Jenkintown, PA
Marta Malmberg
Marathon HS
Marathon, NY
Caroline Nichols
Old Dominion
Virginia Beach, VA
Katie O'Donnell
Blue Bell, PA
Lauren Pfeiffer
Mt. Laurel, NJ
Katie Reinprecht
North Wales, PA
Keli Smith
Selinsgrove, PA
Amy Tran
North Carolina
Grantville, PA

The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team welcomes Argentina to the nation's capital for a five game test series this May. The series will be played at Jacobs Field at American University in Washington, DC. The first match is scheduled for Thursday, May 13 at 6:00pm.

Admission for all games is FREE. U.S. National Team players will be available to sign autographs after the Saturday and Sunday games.

The 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallists, Argentina's Las Leonas are ranked number two in the world in the ABN-AMRO WorldHockey Team Rankings and are in training for the 2010 Women's World Cup in Rosario, Argentina.

The series features the first international field hockey competition on the East Coast since October 2007, when the USA faced Japan at the University of Maryland.