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Hockey World League Valencia: Pool B – USA and Ireland in quarter-finals

June 13, 2015
Cap that – Falgowski celebrates in style

IRL v URU 3-2

RSA v USA 1-4

On an occasion when three Team USA athletes celebrated a combined cap total of 600, it was the North American team's day as they ran out 4-1 winners and booked their place in the quarter finals.

Ireland also booked their quarter-final slot after they won a close-fought affair against Uruguay. The South Americans scored their first goals of the competition, as they ran the Irish to the wire in a tight encounter.

It was Aine Connery’s 55th minute winner that saw Ireland become the first side guaranteed to make it through to the quarter-finals as they survived a second half onslaught from Uruguay to prevail 3-2.

Anna O’Flanagan scored the opening goal and Nikki Evans grabbed her fourth goal of the tournament when she got a diving touch to a Chloe Watkins cross early in the second half. But Uruguay began to punish the Irish indiscipline – they ended with four yellow cards and two green – and got a lifeline when Janine Stanley showed some audacious skills down the right wing before flipping the ball over Emma Gray for her side’s first goal of the tournament.

In the 44th minute, Manuela Vilar dragged home a penalty corner to make it 2-2 and very much game on. Ireland replied, though, with a solid final quarter and won a couple of corners, one of which Cliodhna Sargent swept to Connery to guide home for the victory.

Uruguay's Florencia Norbis, speaking after the game said: "Our first match was difficult, we defended really well in our second game and in this game, we were able to play as we know we can."

Goal scoring hero, Aine Connery said: “It was a very tough game. With the amount of cards we got, it was disappointing from our point of view in terms of game management. But we showed good character at the end and were very focussed in what we had to do. I’m delighted we got the three points.

“We’re so excited with getting a quarter-final place. It was our aim when we started and we have achieved it and can start building towards it.”

USA made it two wins from two as they came from a goal down to beat South Africa 4-1 and become the third team to confirm their place in the quarter-finals of the competition, joining Ireland and Germany.

Dirkie Chamberlain had given South Africa an early lead when she burst through and planted the ball past Jackie Briggs. But the Americans were in aggressive mood and they set about dismantling the South African defence. Katie O’Donnell was a constant threat and their speed in general caused all sorts of problems.

Lauren Crandall – on her 250th international appearance – pumped a corner shot at goal which took a nick off a defender and hit the net for 1-1. Katelyn Falgowski – another celebrant on her 200th cap – added the second in brilliant style, exchanging passes down the right with Michelle Vittese and slamming home from mid-circle.

While the third celebrant – Melissa Gonzalez on 150 caps – didn't make the score-sheet, she was a creative force in midfield. Kat Sharkey made it 3-1 with a tap-in after Paige Selenski and Jill Witmer completed the win in the last 90 seconds when Kelsey Kolojejchick picked her out at the back post.

Speaking after the game, Dirkie Chamberlain said: "“It was one of our better performances but we did play a really strong team and well done to USA. They kept focusing throughout the game while we lost it a bit toward the end. We started great and that’s positive which we can work on. We put pressure on at the start and we have to work on maintaining that. We go back to the drawing board and fix that."

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