Ireland made a sensational start to their Hockey World Cup campaign as they beat the USA 3-1 at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Ireland, ranked 15th in the world, eight places lower than the USA, who are ranked 7th, showed that they are not here to just make up the numbers as they blew Group B wide open.
In a high intensity game with little time to breathe for both sets of players, it was Ireland who made the faster start as they took the lead from a counter-attack. Deirdre Duke latched on to a fantastic long ball from Roisin Upton and calmly slotted it home past the American keeper from a tight angle.
Ireland’s brilliant shape and ability in possession was eye-catching as they quickly scored a second from a penalty corner won by Gillian Pinder. Shirley McCay sent the ball flying into the bottom corner to send the Irish ahead and the fans into hysterics.
— Louise Quinn (@louise_quinn4) July 21, 2018
In their first World Cup since 2002, Ireland couldn’t have hoped for a better start. They knew however that the USA pride themselves on their fitness and ability to outlast their opponents so this game was far from over. The USA dragged themselves back into the game after being awarded a penalty corner. A lovely move saw Michelle Vittese sweep the ball just wide of the right-hand post for Margaux Paolini to tip home.
Ireland had chances to regain their two goal lead but in the end, they did well to shut out the USA before half-time. After a penalty corner was deflected onto the crossbar, Ayeisha McFerran stooped down brilliantly to make the save from Gonzalez’s rebounded shot.
After half-time, Ireland again were fast out of the blocks. Megan Frazer played a super ball into Nikki Evans who found Deirdre Duke who calmly shot home for her second of the game and Ireland’s third.
The USA, desperate to fight their way back into the match, threw the kitchen sink at the Irish defence but to no avail. Ayeisha McFerran wasn’t going to be beaten again as she made some fabulous saves. Ireland did brilliantly to stop the American’s and their calmness in possession was key to controlling the tempo of the game.
Sitting in first place after England and India drew 1-1, Ireland will be ecstatic with the result. They take on India on Thursday knowing a victory will go some way in guaranteeing progress to the next stage.
Ireland’s @AnnaOF happy with that huge win vs @USAFieldHockey but this is just the start, expect the same & more from this Irish team! @irishhockey @IreWomenHockey @Vitality_UK #HWC2018 pic.twitter.com/c6WNeU0TZP
— FIH (@FIH_Hockey) July 21, 2018
Evans, Mullan, McCay, Pinder, Upton, McFerran, Watkins, Colvin, Matthews, O’Flanagan, Wilson