July 17, 2013

System Override: U.S. Pressure Tactics Foil Canada

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Stats | Press Release/In-Game Blog

U.S. defender Amber Falcone won player of the match honors Tuesday for her role in Team USA's stifling defensive effort against Canada, which committed 26 turnovers in a 13-2 loss to the Americans.

© JC Pinheiro

OSHAWA, Ontario -- Coach Ricky Fried has said Team USA's goal is to get better every day. That's a scary thing to contemplate for the rest of the 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women's World Cup participants.

The U.S. is 4-0 after round-robin play, defeating its opponents by an average score of more than 11 goals. On Tuesday, the Americans beat host Canada 13-2 in their final preliminary game. The team's signature midfield ride allowed the U.S. to dominate possession and positioned Team USA in first place entering the medal round.

The U.S. does not carry a true draw specialist on its roster, so the team didn't have a single answer for Canadian midfielder Dana Dobbie, the one-time NCAA career record-holder for draw controls. Midfielder Kelly Berger drew the task of going toe-to-toe with Dobbie in place of Sarah Albrecht and Ally Carey, who take the majority of Team USA draws.

Berger didn't even take the draw as a college player at James Madison.

"They kinda threw me in there. I didn't know any better," she said with a laugh.

That was OK, though, because of how the Team USA midfield system works.

"Dana's amazing on the draw, so we knew we had to work on the ride especially well," Carey said. "Everything in the ride only works if everybody is invested. As long as you shift as a unit, then the ride will be successful, because we're zoning out. We're not man-to-man. And that's what really worked today."

The U.S. double teams came fast and furious to pressure the Canadian ball carriers. Canada technically won the draw battle (11-6), but the team committed 26 turnovers, 14 of them caused by U.S. players. Canadians possessions were few and far between, and Canada mustered just six shots on goal.

By contrast, Team USA took 30 shots.

"We had a good plan on the draw: Be ready for the ball to pop out, and if they did win it, we did a really good job matching up and being ready for the transition and the double. We were able to play clean, get a check, and pick up the ball," U.S. midfielder Kristin Igoe said. "Pressure, pressure, pressure, ready for doubles, working together. It works like a vaccuum."

Attacker Katrina Dowd again led the U.S. in scoring with four goals and an assist. Brooke Eubanks and Crysti Foote scored Canada's goals. Canadian goalie Katie Donohoe had a tremendous performance, with eight saves, three ground balls and three caused turnovers. It wasn't enough though, especially when Canada was just 5-for-13 on clears under the pressure of the U.S. ride from redefending attackers and the midfield. Five different players had multiple caused turnovers for Team USA, including defender Amber Falcone, who won player of the match honors.

"We're really making [the ride] a special moment in our game," Berger said.

Following its win over Canada, Team USA will have a rest day Wednesday before returning Thursday to play the winner of the game between Ireland and the Haudenosaunee in its quest to repeat as FIL champion.

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