Sept. 16, 2011
STORRS, Conn - Former University of Connecticut field hockey star Melissa Gonzalez has been selected as one of 16 players to make the 2011 United States Pan American Team as announced by USA Field Hockey on Thursday. Gonzalez earned the spot while competing against the other 26 members of the US National Team.
The Pan American Games are held every four years and represent the first opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games. From October 19-28, eight teams will fight for the chance to fulfill an Olympic dream. Only the gold medalist will punch its ticket to the Olympic Games.
However, it does not represent the end of the road if Team USA does not win gold at the Pan American Games. From early January to May of 2012, there are three tournaments held in Belgium, India and Japan and the US will be permitted to compete in one of those three events for another shot to earn a spot in the Olympic Games.
Head Coach Lee Bodimeade has named the athletes that will travel to the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and attempt to earn a ticket to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"The selection process was extremely difficult with the depth we have on this Squad, but this is a very good position for us to be in" says Bodimeade. "We are happy with the team selected and our preparations and are looking to achieve success at the Pan Ams."
There is a fierce group of contenders that USA will have to face. Canada, Chile and of course the world's number one ranked team Argentina will be key opponents for USA. These sixteen athletes have the potential to make history and break a lingering Argentinean winning streak that dates back as far as 1987. For the past five out of six Pan American tournaments, the red, white and blue has finished second to Argentina. This is the year they're hoping for a change.
When Bodimeade was asked about his thoughts on facing the world's number one ranked team at the tournament, he stated, "We've known that from the start. We play better when we have the underdog status."
Of the 144 field hockey teams in the world, an exclusive twelve will have the honor of standing on the world's biggest stage and competing at the Olympic Games. USA is looking to secure one of those twelve spots next month.
Final preparations will resume on Wednesday in Chula Vista, Calif. The team will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo. the end of September for altitude training before making their final stop in Guadalajara.
For more information on the Pan American Games, click here.
Pan American roster: Kayla Bashore-Smedley (Shoemakersville, Pa.), Michelle Cesan (Harding, N.J.), Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Claire Laubach (Centerville, Va.), Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, Va.) Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa.), Amy Tran-Swensen (Grantville, Pa.), Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, Va.), Michelle Vittese (Woodbury, N.J.), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.)