It took less than 60 seconds for Savannah Fitzpatrick to put Friday’s FIH Pro League game out of reach.
With visiting Australia leading the U.S. women’s field hockey team 1-0 with just under 11 minutes to play at Spooky Nook Sports, Fitzpatrick took a pass at the top of the circle and fired into the backboard.
Forty-nine seconds later, she went back on the attack, stealing the ball off a U.S. stick and pushing it ahead to Rosie Malone. Malone then centered the ball to a streaking Fitzpatrick, who hit the turf while sliding the ball across the goal line.
The pair of tallies weren’t the last, either, as Emily Chalker connected in the 58th minute as the Hockeyroos rolled past Team USA 4-0.
“It didn’t feel that quick, but it must have been,” Fitzpatrick said with a laugh in recalling her back-to-back goals. “I think they were really coming at us — playing really far forward — so then any turnover, we had like 50 meters of space.”
FIH No. 12 Team USA was stuck on defense for most of the first half, struggling to get the ball across the 25-yard-line and being held without a shot in the first 30 minutes of play.
Australia opened the night with consecutive corners in the third minute, but Amanda Magadan blocked the first attempt and goalie Kelsey Bing stopped the second.
The third-ranked Hockeyroos maintained the pressure into the second quarter, when Malone took a pass, spun to her right and launched a backhander into the cage for the 1-0 lead three minutes into the period.
Team USA’s closest attempts came in the closing minutes of the first half and the start of the second half.
With the final minutes ticking off the clock in the second quarter, Magadan found Warwick graduate Alyssa Manley, who worked the ball ahead to Danielle Grega. Team USA’s leading scorer fired a quick shot, but Australian goalie Ashlee Wells turned it away.
Donegal’s Mackenzie Allessie then earned the Americans’ first — and only — corner of the night. This time, Ashley Hoffman’s drag flick was kicked away by substitute Australian goalie Rachael Lynch.
Opening the third quarter, Anna Dessoye capitalized on a turnover and sprinted toward the cage. Stopping at the top of the goal, the midfielder fired just wide of the cage.
The period ended without a tally, but Fitzpatrick made sure to give Australia a comfortable lead in the fourth.
“I think at 1-0 it’s a dangerous score and then 2-0, it’s even more dangerous because they get one more and they’re right back in it,” Fitzpatrick said. “Especially against a team like them, they’re not going to stop playing it back.”
That tally was the difference maker, according to U.S. coach Janneke Schopman.
“I think that’s kind of when we lost the game, or lost control of the game,” she said. “And then the 3-0 happened way too quickly. I mean, you make a mistake and they capitalize; they’re a good team."
“I think the third quarter is probably the best I’ve seen us play in terms of playing a good opponent — No. 3 in the world — and we basically dominated the whole third quarter,” Schopman continued. “You create opportunities that you don’t capitalize on and that’s the lesson, maybe — you have to score.”
Team USA took three of its four shots in the third quarter and had another close look in the final minutes as Dessoye and Lauren Moyer worked the ball down the field and Manley pushed it into the circle. However, the Americans couldn’t break up the shutout.
“I think, unfortunately, today was a step back for us,” U.S. captain Kat Sharkey said. “We’ve been making steady progress until now, but I think the beauty of this league is we have another game in two days and we can learn (from this) and apply it to the next game.”
Team USA returns to action at 6 p.m. Sunday, when Argentina takes the field.