June 22, 2009

Aus-some Comeback: Team USA Prevails

by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Goalie Megan Huether anchored Team USA's second-half shutout with six saves. The U.S. erased a 9-4 deficit to beat rival Australia, 10-9, in the FIL Women's World Cup.

© Pellerins Photography

The Blague from Prague: Lochary's Live-Game Blog
Box Score: United States 10, Australia 9

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Just call ‘em the Comeback Kids.

The U.S. rallied to a thrilling 10-9 upset victory Monday over defending world champion Australia  in the 2009 FIL Women's World Cup.

Team USA trailed 5-0 early in the first half and entered halftime with a 9-4 deficit. But the Americans stormed back in the second period, shutting out the powerful Australian offense and slowing chipping away at the lead. The game-winner came when Sarah Albrecht (3g) made a strong cut to the center of the arc and slammed home a perfect feed from Caroline Cryer (1g, 1a) with 4:21 remaining.

“They’re a young team. They needed to keep their composure, and they did. We needed to play a smart game, and we did,” said U.S. head coach Sue Heether.

The Americans, none of whom have previous World Cup experience, have displayed a propensity for dramatic comebacks. Earlier in the tournament, they rallied from a 4-3 halftime deficit to defeat Canada, 11-4, and broke out from a 6-6 halftime tie to defeat England, 17-8. The U.S. thrives in high-pressure situations, a trait which should serve it well as it enters the medal round with the tournament’s only perfect 4-0 record.

“There’s no better spark for the offense than a great defense, and that’s what we got,” said midfielder Acacia Walker whose second goal of the game on a penalty shot tied the game with 7:45 left.

“This is moment we live for, to have an incredible comeback on an awesome team.”

Australia raced to an early lead on the strength of Stacey Morlang's three goals and one assist, but the Americans controlled the tempo in the second half, milking long possessions for high-quality shots on the offensive end. They also benefited from a goalie change -- right-handed U.S. starter Devon Wills (three saves) came out in favor of lefty keeper Megan Huether (six saves), who anchored the second-half shutout.

“It really fires me up to come in at a moment like that. I like any opportunity to help the team, whatever my role,” said Huether.

The U.S. put forth a balanced offensive effort, with six different players contributing to the score.

“We were more fluid with each other, and it just came. We were just playing together. In the first half, we were rushing our shots,” said Albrecht, who was named Player of the Match.

Australia won the final draw and had a chance to tie it on Jen Adams’ (2g) tricky feed to Sonia LaMonica on the crease. But LaMonica couldn’t handle the ball, and Huether came up with possession. The U.S. then executed a textbook stall in the final minutes, demonstrating the icy composure required for such a dramatic comeback win.

“This is the smartest game we’ve played yet, and we still haven’t shown everything we’ve got. We’re just getting started,” said Heether.

Team USA advances to the quarterfinals Wednesday at 4 p.m. Prague time against the winner of a play-in match between Ireland and the Czech Republic.

Pool A
United States 10, Australia 9
England 20, Japan 3

Pool B
Wales 10, Scotland 6
Czech Republic 15, New Zealand 3

Pool C
Ireland 12, Haudenosaunee 6
Denmark 15, Korea 2
Netherlands 17, Austria 2

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.

Related Links

Team USA Schedule/Results

* Official Event Web Site U.S. 17, England 8 - Boxscore | Recap
* Live Game Video Feed U.S. 11, Canada 4 - Boxscore | Recap
* Team USA Home Page U.S. 26, Japan 12 - Boxscore | Recap

U.S. 10, Australia 9 - Boxscore | Recap

Quarterfinals: U.S. vs. Ireland/Czech - Wednesday, 4 p.m. Local Time


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