They say the number 13 is supposed to be unlucky, but it was anything but for the U.S. women's field hockey team Saturday night.
Anna Dessoye and Linnea Gonzales connected on penalty corners and Lauren Moyer added a second quarter goal as Team USA pushed past China 3-1 for its first FIH Pro League win.
“You see it in the girls,” U.S. coach Janneke Schopman said of the importance of the team's first win in 13 games. “You always want to win and I knew we had a chance – you have a chance every time – but it's so important for them because they work really hard and train really hard. It's not a lack of intent or the lack of anything. Sometimes it has to fall your way and today it did.”
No. 12 Team USA played aggressively from the opening whistle as Kat Sharkey took the game's first shot, but her backhander clanged off the left post.
China tried to crack the scoreboard with four penalty corners to open the second quarter, but the U.S. defense turned each of them away. Instead, it was Team USA taking advantage of its first corner with 10:35 left in the half. Sharkey's initial shot was stopped by a defender, but the ball bounced off of her stick and out to a waiting Dessoye by the right post.
“It was so exciting,” said Dessoye. “We want to put goals in the net. Kat had an amazing shot and it was right there and I just put it in.”
It marked the first goal in three games for Team USA, which last scored in a 2-1 loss at Germany on April 30. The tally wouldn't be the last either, as the U.S. added another two goals to match its scoring total from the past five games combined.
While No. 10 China continued to wrack up corners, finishing the first half with nine of its 14 corners in the game, it would be the Americans adding to their lead before the break.
Regaining possession, the U.S. pushed the ball forward to Amanda Magadan on the left side. Met by a defender, Magadan slipped the ball to Dessoye near the baseline. The midfielder centered the ball to Moyer, who flipped the ball over he shoulder and into the back of the net.
Team USA took aim again with six minutes left in the third quarter as Danielle Grega lifted a shot from the top of the circle, but Chinese goalie Ye Jiao jumped up to swat it away. Erin Matson followed with a quick strike that was saved, but the U.S. was awarded a corner.
Gonzales left no doubt about her shot, taking the insert and firing an absolute rocket into the backboard for the 3-0 lead with 5:37 left in the third.
China continued to find opportunities, closing the quarter with two more corners which were both saved by U.S. goalie Kelsey Bing. The keeper made two more saves China ended the shutout with 7:31 to play as Peng Yang just got the ball under the outstretched Bing.
The visitors would eventually pull their goalie in favor of a kicking back to try to cut the deficit, but Bing stopped the final corner, finishing the night with 17 saves and being named Player of the Match — the second time she's earned the honor this season.
“Honestly, I'm just trying not to think and just watch the ball,” said Bing. “I have complete faith in my defensive penalty corner and especially the flyers, who were running amazing lines, to do their jobs so I can do mine.”