Team England faced the current World Cup champions USA in their first game of the 2013 Championships. After the warm-ups and the national Anthems, both teams took to the field in a confident manner knowing this was going to be a fast and physical encounter as each team would want to start the campaign with a win.
It would be England that would start the brightest, gaining possession from the first draw leading to Kirsten Lafferty feeding Laura Merrifield to finish low with only forty seven seconds played. The USA took control of the next passage of play and replied within a minute of the first goal through Ally Carey (awarded game MVP) to level the score.
The USA employed a game-plan of high pressure not allowing England to slow down or settle the ball, every pass was met with a USA player challenging including goalkeeper Devon Wills who would play like as extra defender leaving her goal to add extra pressure. USA benefited from this tactic and managed to turnover the ball a number of times and go on the attack. The high pressure defence, slick passing in midfield and precision finishing led to ten further goals from USA to take the score to 11-1. Merrifield would get her second before the half-time whistle but this was answered back with a further two goals from the Americans.
USA opened the scoring in the second half from Kristin Igoe netting past Cat Gaunt, a halftime switch from Sally Keogh in goal. Team England enjoyed more possession on the back of two saves from Gaunt in goal against a USA team in fine scoring form. England battled on and started seeing more rewards with Kirsten Lafferty stepping up to grab a hat-trick of goals. The second half battle continued under floodlights with England scoring further goals from Emily Gray and Merrifield in response to three goals from the USA.
In a tough first match for Team England, they encountered a well drilled USA team that moved the ball well and had multiple threats on attack, but England can take many positives away from the game including a spirited second half performance which Team England won 5-4.
The team will be looking forward to taking on the Welsh in the next game, the last meeting won by England at the Home Internationals.
Goals: Lafferty 3, Merrifield 3, Gray 1
Assists: Lafferty 1, R. Smith 1
Saves: Gaunt 3, Keogh 2
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