USA bounce back to beat Ireland in opening test

Women’s International test series
USA 3 (M Vittese, J Witmer, J Young) Ireland 1 (E Beatty)
World number six side USA came from a goal down to beat Ireland 3-1 at Spooky Nook in the opening game of their three-test series this week.

It was a new look US side with seven players from their Olympic panel mixing with a couple of new caps but they look to be transitioning into the new cycle well with a powerful performance.

Emily Beatty gave Ireland a ninth minute lead. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Early on, after a couple of US corners, Ireland showed plenty of inspiration with Nikki Evans drawing a penalty stroke just six minutes in when debutante Carissa Vittese hooked her stick. Hannah Matthews’ stroke hit the base of the post, however.

The green army did take the lead in the ninth minute, though, when the Americans never truly cleared Ireland’s second corner. Matthews returned the ball into the centre where Anna O’Flanagan and then Emily Beatty had efforts, the latter flicking over Jackie Briggs.

The US bounced back in the second quarter. Yvonne O’Byrne’s robust tackle on Kathleen Sharkey in mid-circle drew the second stroke of the game with Michelle Vittese flicking home for 1-1.

Taylor West had another goal disallowed on video review after a brilliant Lena Tice save off the line hit her on the body. West popped in the rebound but the review showed she took the ball down with her chest.

But the corners kept coming and from their sixth, Michelle Gonzalez’s push taking a smart touch from Jill Witmer to sneak in for 2-1 in the 23rd minute.

Ireland were under pressure but did break well with O’Flanagan’s smart stickwork opening the door for Evans whose shot went under Briggs but Caitlin van Sickle covered to clean up off the goal line.

The second half proved less open with a couple of cards adding to the intensity in the midfield battle. Emma Russell and Sinead Loughran almost unlocked the door.

Michelle Vittese slammed a shot into the chestguard of Ayeisha McFerran who followed up with a strong second phase clearance to keep it at 2-1 going into the final quarter.

USA, though, made the game safe with seven minutes to go from their eighth corner, Julia Young slamming home from the stopper’s position after an off-course injection.

Ireland had a final second corner – their fourth – but it was blocked down and USA came away with a 3-1 result. The sides meet again on Friday evening at 11.30pm (Irish time) with the concluding tie a day later at the same time.

USA: J Briggs, M Gonzalez, M Vittese, J Witmer, A Hoffman, J Young, C Vittese, L Moyer, K Ginolfi, K Sharley, C van Sickle
Subs: L Shealy, T West, A Magadan, A Froede, N Woods, E McCrudden

Ireland: A McFerran, K Mullan, S McCay, L Tice, G Pinder, S Loughran, R Upton, N Daly, H Matthews, E Russell, A O’Flanagan
Subs: Y O’Byrne, N Evans, E Beatty, C Watkins, Z Wilson, D Duke

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