August 10, 2011

U.S. Advances to U19 Semifinals vs. England

by Clare Lochary | | Live Blog Replay | Hannover Hub

U.S. team midfielder Madison Acton sets pace upfield Wednesday during a 13-1 victory over Scotland in the FIL U19 Women's World Championship quarterfinal. Team USA plays England in Friday's semifinals.

© Martin Hebgen

HANNOVER, Germany -- With a stifling defensive effort, the U.S. beat Scotland, 13-1, in the quarterfinals of the 2011 FIL Under-19 Women's World Championship. Team USA improved to 6-0 in the tournament and advanced to the semifinal round versus England on Friday.

"We wanted our defense to be very patient with their checking and to force the attacker to make the mistake. We did a great job of that," said U.S. head coach Krystin Porcella. "They used their feet to play good defense and always had each other's backs on their slides."

Defender Caileigh Sindall won Player of the Match honors with four ground balls. Sindall and the rest of the American defense held Team Scotland to its lowest goal total of the tournament. Scotland came in averaging 16 goals per game, but was held scoreless until Natasha Rodgers scored with less than two minutes remaining.

Kelsey Duryea started in the cage for the U.S. and recorded two saves in the first half; Allie Murray relieved her at the half and added three saves. It was the best day for the American defense thus far in the tournament. Overall, the U.S. defense has held opponents to an average 4.5 goals per game. No team has reached double digits against Team USA.

"Our strategy was to mark up on our girls, to watch cutters and to work as a team. Instead of caring about your girl, you care about the team, and through the game, you could feel us change from individuals to a whole unit," Sindall said. "It's exciting to get our first win in the medal round, and it's getting really exciting getting closer to the gold medal round."

Midfielder Tatum Coffey and attacker Brigid Smith led the American attack with two goals apiece. Eleven different players scored for Team USA, which dominated possession and held the ball for much of the second half, thanks to crisp passing and the smothering American defense.

"What we're really looking for on defense is to force the attacker into a situation where she's not comfortable, so they turn, or force a double," Porcella said. "The girls have really bought into that system of defense, and they're getting better and better with every game."

Following a rest day Thursday, Team USA will take on Team England at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Sportpark Hannover. When the two teams met earlier in the round-robin phase of the tournament, the Americans gained a 16-5 victory keyed by a five-goal performance from attacker Cortney Fortunato.

The English team had a rocky start to the tournament, going 1-4 in the round robin, but rebounded with a 20-12 win over Japan in the quarterfinals. The victory avenged a 13-10 loss to the Japanese in the first round and earned Team England a berth in the semifinals.

The winner of the U.S.-England game will face the winner of the Australia-Canada semifinal in the gold medal match. Australian and Canada will play at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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