June 18, 2009

Kjellman Sparks U.S. to Win in Cup Opener

by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Box Score: U.S. 17, England 8

Kristen Kjellman scored four second-half goals to help Team USA break open a tight game against England in its 2009 FIL World Cup opener in Prague, Czech Republic.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Midfielder Kristen Kjellman scored four of her game-high five goals and dominated draw controls in the second half, as the U.S. women's team pulled away from England for a 17-8 victory in its 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Cup opener Thursday.

Tied 6-6 at halftime, Team USA broke the game open with a 9-0 run -- including three straight from Kjellman -- with its defense holding Team England scoreless until the 7:35 mark. Kjellman was the top goal scorer with five tallies while teammate Lindsday Munday was the points leader with three goals and three assists. Regina Oliver (4 GB, 4 CT) and Amber Falcone (4 GB, 1 CT) anchored the defense, which shut out the English attack for than 20 minutes at the start of the second half. Falcone also contributed two goals. Starting goalie Devon Wills had four saves; keeper Megan Huether contributed one stop in the final 9:34.
Attacker Felicity Hermsen and midfielder Lucy Lynch each contributed two goals for Team England. Starting goalie Catherine Gaunt had 10 saves, seven of which came in the first half. Backup keeper Anita Thorose made three saves.

After a slow start, the U.S. team rallied from an early 2-0 deficit.

“We definitely had jitters but I think that we just had to play more together and do the little things and really chip away and really try not to get it all done at once,” said Kjellman, who was named Player of the Match.

Team England controlled the first two draws and scored off both, courtesy of Hermsen and Lynch. Munday got the U.S. on the board at 24:14, beating Gaunt one-on-one.

The two teams traded goals and went into the break with a 6-6 tie. It was then that American head coach Sue Heether impressed upon players the importance of executing their game and playing like champions.

“We can walk the walk and talk the talk, but unless we believe in ourselves we’re going to play good, good, good lacrosse -- but not great,” said Heether.

“At halftime they need to own their feelings, their uniforms, their country’s colors. And they walked back out there in the second half and it was a different field.”

England displayed incredible speed and artful passing at close range, but got sloppy on long passes. It also encountered a lock-down American defense, anchored by Regina Oliver and Amber Falcone. Oliver, Falcone and goalie Devon Wills (4 saves) shut out Team England for 22:25 in the second half.

“In the second half we really worked on playing our defense and doing the fundamentals, all the little things that make our defense sound,” said Falcone.

The U.S. also made some adjustments at on draws, leaning more on Holly McGarvie (1g, 1a) who nabbed all four of her draw controls in the second half.

“At halftime we really realized that [the draw] needed to be a real big focus of ours. We all just made a commitment to go really hard in those first five seconds after the draw,” said Kjellman.

The U.S. squad plays Canada Friday at 8:30 a.m. EST. FIL World Cup games are broadcast live at http://videosport.tn.nova.cz/lacrosse-prague-2009.

The U.S. women's national teams program is coordinated by US Lacrosse, the national governing body of the sport. deBeer Lacrosse is the official exclusive equipment and apparel supplier to the U.S. women's national teams program.

2009 FIL World Cup Scores - Thursday, June 18

Pool A
Australia 16, Canada 11
United States 17, England 8

Pool B
Scotland 8, Czech Republic 6
Wales 18, Germany 3

Pool C
Austria 14, Denmark 7
Ireland 22, South Korea 0

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