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WC2013: USA v ENGLAND (SEMI-FINAL)

England played the USA in their first match of the 2013 World Cup during the group stages and nine days later the USA stood between them and a place in the Gold Medal game. USA were the only team left in the competition that had not lost a game, so England new they had a fight on their hands.

The first possession was grabbed by USA off the draw and it took them just over thirty seconds to open the scoring from Katie Rowen pulling off an inside roll move. The USA would continue attacking before Kelly Burger dodged to her left and shot high into the goal making the score 2-0. In this early period, England did not see much of the ball; instead they had to put up with the USA attack and another goal from Sarah Bullard (3-0).

England’s first possession came off the draw, with Rachel Kircheimer collecting and taking the ball into the attacking end. The USA applied their trademark pressure with goalkeeper Devon Wills coming out to double the ball, which almost gave Kircheimer an opportunity to score. A goal was not far off, as Sarah Taylor was fouled by Devon Wills, rushing out of goal and pushing Taylor over, giving the England midfielder the opportunity to have a free position shot on an empty net (3-1). USA continued to enjoy time on attack forcing England goalie, Sally Keogh to make saves before Danielle Etrasco netted a fourth for the Americans (4-1). A second goal for Team England came from the draw, which went over everybody’s  head, however Laura Merrifield was alert and picked up the groundball with a clear path to goal, faking a shot before placing over Wills (4-2).

USA would score another before England were on the scoreboard again, this time the goal starting with Keogh, who under pressure from a USA attacker managed to clear the ball to Kirsten Lafferty. Lafferty recognising the opposition were pressuring high, floated a ball over the top to Gray who found herself free to go to the cage and score (5-3). For the remainder of the half both teams had chances and goals, Merrifield and Gray for England while, Bullard, Munday (x2), Dowd, Rowen and Albrecht netting for the USA. At Halftime the score stood at 11-5 in favour to the USA. England had held them close with eight minutes to go in the half but the Americans scored three quick goals to close out the half.

England came back onto the pitch with a goalie change, this time Cat Gaunt stood between the pipes in place of Keogh and Gaunt saw action with just over a minute gone as Etrasco was awarded a free position from a shooting space call, which she finished (12-5). Team England had to deal with playing long periods in defence, but this allowed them to use their pace on the counter attack, which they did to allow Sophie Brett to score their sixth goal and her first of the game (12-6). A second goal on the trot came from Rugby Smith, taking on her defender and hooting on the run with a powerful shot (12-7). USA scored four more goals before the England managed another from Taylor, but by this time the damage was done (16-8).

The American team had switched up in gear and did not let up on attack or defence, a period of six minutes saw five goals, with Dowd getting the final goal from a shot which had lots of heat behind it (21-8).  As the clock wound down, the USA kept the ball away from England and played possession not needing to score any more goals.

England can be proud of their performance today, scoring 8 goals from 11 shots to give them a good conversion rate, also holding the USA close for most of the first half will give lots of positives as they step into the Bronze medal match against Australia.