July 18, 2013

Quarterfinal Rout Paves Way for England-USA Rematch

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

England's Laura Merrifield battles Danielle Etrasco for a loose ball in the team's pool play matchup last week. The teams match up again Friday in the FIL semifinals.
© JC Pinheiro 

OSHAWA, Ontario — After Team USA's 20-1 win over Haudenosaunee in Thursday's quarterfinals and a 10-0 England win over Wales, the pair are once again preparing to face off in Friday's semifinal round. England and the U.S. women played in both team's pool play opener, with the former colony taking a 17-7 win over its onetime parent nation.

An 11-goal run in the first half paved the way to that lopsided win, with attackers Katrina Dowd (3g, 1a) and Katie Rowan (3g, 1a) leading the scoring against the English.

Dowd is now the team's overall goals (20) and points (26) leader, and is within striking distance of breaking Team USA's single-tournament record in both categories. The all-time single tournament goal record was set by attacker Quinn Carney (24) in 2005. Current U.S. attacker and team captain Lindsey Munday holds the single-tournament points record (37), which she set in 2009. Munday has scored 14 points thus far in the 2013 tournament.

Despite Dowd's production, the U.S. attack is a balanced one. Thirteen of the 16 field players on the roster have registered at least one goal. Dowd drew a faceguard in the Haudenosaunee game after an early three-goal run. Fried expects that Dowd might draw defensive attention in the semifinal, but was confident that the team would rise to the challenge.

"We never rely on one person," Fried said. "I think it was a great thing for us to see that now and be able to work on some things. Because I do think we're going to see that again. And there were a number of things that we were able to do today to see what does and doesn't work for our team."

Defensively, Team USA will look to lock down midfielder Laura Merrifield, a former first-team All-American and NCAA champion at Maryland. Midfielder Kirsten Lafferty should also draw some defensive attention. Lafferty scored three straight goals in less than three minutes in the round-robin game against the U.S.

England and the U.S. are the two fastest, fittest teams in the tournament, a factor which may loom large. Temperatures in Oshawa have been in the high eighties, and should remain so throughout the week. Etrasco was unworried about the heat.

"We're really used to the heat. We try out in it, we practice in it, we're prepared for it. We hydrate like crazy,"she said.

In Thursday's action, the lopsided win over Haudenosaunee had a number of historic firsts. It was the first time the two teams had ever met in FIL competition. It was the Haudenosaunee’s first trip to the quarterfinals, and late in the second half Haudenosaunee attacker Awiheyo Thomas, a Syracuse alum, got the team’s first goal against the defending world champions.

“The Haudenosaunee come out with a lot of pride, but I think we were successful because we stuck to our game plan,” U.S. attacker Danielle Etrasco said. Etrasco led Team USA with five goals and 1 assist in the quarterfinal win.

Now Team USA must face a more familiar foe for the next round. Australia and Canada also advanced to the semifinals, and will play each other at 2 p.m., just following the USA-England tilt. The winners of the two games will move on to the gold medal game, scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday.

"We [have] talked about getting better throughout the tournament. Last night, we literally talked about [how] right now it doesn't matter -- it's just win the game and move on, so it is a little bit different approach," U.S. coach Ricky Fried said. "At the end the of the day, the win is the most important thing right now."

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