India 1 vs.1 USA
5.00 push back
As we enter this final pool game for the two teams, the USA and India find themselves on equal points, but India have a slightly better goal difference, meaning that a draw would suit them. The Americans are looking for a win in order to make sure of a progression to the cross over rounds, otherwise Ireland will need to beat the English, by a three goal margin later on tonight.
The Indians have started eagerly, looking faster and hungrier than their opponents. In the third minute the Rani, the captain, takes a heavy challenge and goes down holding her lower leg. The physio enters the pitch to help her limp off. There hasn’t been much in terms of action inside either circle, but in the seventh minute we get our first short corner, after an American kicks it inside her own circle. India line up to try and take the lead. Deep Ekka sweeps it goal ward, but Jackie Briggs planks and in the scramble afterwards the USA are awarded a free hit out. With eleven minutes played, the USA take the lead. After a circle entry and a shot against Savita’s pads, Margaux Paolino pops up and scores from a rebound.
With a little under 90 seconds remaining, the Indians play the ball off of an American in the circle. Short corner. The shot rolls off the keeper’s shoulder and the rebound is blocked for a long corner. A minute later they get another, which tests the durability of the advertising hoardings behind the Yankee goal. At the first hooter the USA has the advantage.
Within a minute of the restart Deepika is shown a green card, but India still come forward winning a long corner. Shortly after this though, the Americans attack themselves and trump India’s corner, with a shorter version. The shot is blocked though and the move breaks down.
With three and half minutes played in the second period India get a short corner, after an American defender doesn’t retreat five metres from a free hit in her defensive quarter. Rani thwacks a shot at goal, but Briggs is equal to the challenge and ball goes clear. The Indians come back, but the ball goes over the baseline for a hit out.
India are now throwing wave after wave of attacks towards the Americans. Two questions spring to my mind; how long can the American defence hold out and how long can the Indians maintain this intensity.
After a mazy run by Michelle Vittese, the ball is sent into the circle. There’s a melee and the USA win another short corner. The Indians refer this and they end up wasting their right to appeal, as the ball was clearly sat upon by Savita. A slap shot from the top of the ‘D’ goes wide of the left post. The Americans get another chance with 45 seconds remaining of the half. A straight strike and then a long corner from which India win a free hit. At half time the score is 1 – 0 to the Americans.
The first short corner of the second half is for the team in sky blue and it’s an equaliser. Rani is back on the pitch after her earlier knock and finds the equaliser. The captain is the hero of the moment.
After the early stages of the game, where the Indians try to block her out, the USA captain, Melissa Gonzalez is starting to have an effect of the game, finding space to drive into and teams mates to pass to. In the sixth minute Margaux Paolino is sin binned for two minutes. The, on twelve minutes Gonzalez is also shown the green card. Shortly after this, Tara Vitesse fires the ball at the Indian keeper, but to no avail. At the end of the quarter it’s still 1 – 1
Within a minute and a half of the restart India get another short corner. This time it’s sent low to the keeper’s right, who manages to pick it out with her stick and send it away. In the fifth minute the Indians send a shot over the bar. They really want to find a winner, pushing forward a bit more than the US team are able to .
With four minutes remaining, the USA start coming forward with a bit more frequency in order to find that all important goal, but can’t find a way through their opponents defensive players. Two minutes of the game left Ashley Hoffman is shown a green card. This doesn’t stop the Americans from coming forward only a few seconds remaining a shot is fired towards the Indian goal, but goes wide after a deflection. 1.6 seconds left of the game and The USA refer for a body in the circle. It’s denied and the get a long corner instead. The hooter goes and the Indians confirm their place in the cross over round. The final score is India 1 – 1 USA.