Strong Defense, Dowd's Offense Lead USA Past Wales
OSHAWA, Ontario -- For 53 minutes, the U.S. defense shut out the Welsh attack in a 19-2 win at the 2013 FIL Women's World Cup. The Welsh scored once in the first two minutes and once in the last two minutes, but otherwise Team USA kept them out of the critical scoring area and back on their heels.
"Something that was important to us was really playing well as a unit. We focused a lot on communication and decision making. I thought we had some awesome double teams today and really relentless pressure," American defensive coordinator Amy Bokker said.
|The USA defense, including Gina
Oliver, held Wales to just two goals in a pool play win in
© JC Pinhiero
Together, Team USA combined for 8 caused turnovers and allowed only two shots on goal. The defenders and midfielders neutralized the efforts of Welsh midfielder Ros Lloyd Rout (5 DC) by riding the ball hard between the restraining lines.
American defender Jenn Russell had two ground balls, one draw control and one caused turnover in the win. One of the ground balls came on a graceful switch in the second half between Russell and midfielder Kelly Berger. Berger lost possession near the restraining line and Russell sprinted out to grab the ball, just as Berger zipped back over the line to avoid an offsides call. The U.S. kept possession thanks to smart play and good communication.
"Defensively, we always focus on making sure we're communicating from us [the defense] to the midfield, and from the midfield to the attack. We focus on being one unit, instead of defense, midfield and attack – one team," Russell said.
The near-shutout of Wales bolstered Team USA's spirits heading into tomorrow's huge match-up against archrival Australia. The Australians lost their tournament opener, 12-11, to host Canada, marking the Canadians' first victory over Australia in FIL history. The U.S. won its opening game against England, 17-7, but the defense faltered briefly in the second half, allowing a 3-goal English run. Today's effort marked a return to form.
"We went back to being what U.S. is all about, being disciplined and making decisions early. We don't lack athleticism, that's for sure," defender Gina Oliver (2GB) said. "It's fun to play with these guys and it's awesome for us to have our coaches put us in position to make plays.
Meanwhile, the American offense dominated possession and piled up the points, getting the better of an increasingly fatigued Welsh defense. Goalie Gill Aldcroft had 7 saves, many of them excellent, in the first half, and Erin Walters added 3 saves in the second period. Still, 11 different Americans scored, led by attacker Katrina Dowd (4g, 3a). Dowd won Player of the Match honors, and said one of the best parts of the tournament is that she doesn't have to face Team USA's defenders.
"I couldn't wait for the World Cup, so I couldn't have to play against them anymore," Dowd said. "I was expecting things like this from our defense. They have great angles, great pick-off plays."