May 5, 2014
This article is courtesy of Team USA. For the full release and more information click here.
GLASGOW, Scotland – The U.S. Women’s National Team came to Scotland with focused vision, investing full energy and effort into each match to earn their way and leave their mark in the gold round of 2014 Champions Challenge. A back-and-forth battle ensued against Ireland but Team USA didn’t falter under the immense pressure to finish on top of the tournament. The squad solidified their first-place award with a score of 3-1.
“It has been a fantastic week for the team and we’re pleased with today’s outcome,” said Head Coach Craig Parnham. “It’s very important for us to keep training and keep looking ahead. The qualification of the 2016 Champions Trophy is a huge, significant thing for our program. There are some exciting times ahead.”
In today’s match, Ireland attacked the cage early with a high goal off of a corner setting a fast-paced rhythm within mere seconds of the game that was carried through the full 70 minutes. A riveting series of short passes in front of Ireland’s cage led to an equalizing goal for Team USA by Player of the Match, Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.) in the 25th minute. Game flow rotated from both ends of the pitch as a fantastic display of athleticism persisted. It was only until the 35th minute when U.S. player Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, Va.) slammed in a straight shot off of a corner did the scoreboard move. The halftime report kept a pulse for both teams aspiring for tournament glory: USA 2, Ireland 1. In the 48th minute, USA athlete Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.) busted into the offense circle to earn a penalty corner. O'Donnell slipped the ball over the Green Army’s keeper for the third and final goal of the match. By winning Champions Challenge, the U.S. are qualified for the prized 2016 Champions Trophy event.
“Our goal coming into this tournament was to grow each game,” said U.S. captain Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.). “We knew that if we focused on each match that we’d get to where we wanted to go which is the finals. Today we put focus on the process and knew the result would come about because of it. This gives us confidence going into the World Cup.”
Along with the team’s accolade, the distinguished Junior Player Award of the 2014 Champions Challenge was bestowed to U.S. athlete Emily Wold (Freehold, N.J.).
During today’s final round of competition, the United States also wore a colorful band-aid on their arms to show support to a young U.S. goalie who overcame leukemia and raise awareness of pediatric cancer.
On the opening day of Champions Challenge, the U.S. defeated Spain 3-1. The following day the squad fell to South Africa 1-2. Ireland was the final pool play match for Team USA where they concluded with a score of 3-0. The tournament continued on as the team launched into the first match of crossovers against India with a score of 1- 0. Despite Spain’s efforts to contain the aggressive play, the U.S. Women’s National Team won 3-1 sealing USA’s seat in the finals.
In the last two Champions Challenges, the U.S. walked away with silver medals. With the implementation of Hockey World League, the 2014 Champions Challenge 1 will be the final edition of the event. Champions Challenge 1 also served as Team USA’s final preparation for the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup. Earlier this year, the U.S. took on Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand in test matches in Lancaster, Pa. and Chula Vista, Calif.