Yesterday’s second Semifinal was a match pinning Team USA, a huge force in the World Cup so far, against England, the talented host team. The two nations first met last Saturday for the first time, the United States serving up England’s first loss of the 2017 Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, 18-1.
Although the final score still featured double-digit separation, this game was the closest US match I have seen thus far in the World Cup. Throughout the entire match, both teams wasted no time in setting up both their offensive and defensive plays, and the game was extremely fast from the starting draw. It was thrilling to see.
England Came Prepared
As is their style, the USA provided a huge amount of pressure, and double teamed the ball in many circumstances and in several spots on the field. England saw this method, as well as the slim chance allowed by the American players to reach the goal.
In a couple instances, they were able to take advantage of this chance and get a goal. Therefore, the USA had to tighten up their performance, and they did not disappoint.
Ally Carey and Kayla Treanor were able to get the US on the board early, with two quick goals in the first couple of minutes. Now familiar with the American attack, the English countered with a pair of goals through the sticks of Laura Merrifield and Lucy Lynch, tying the game at 2!
The USA has had an incredibly fast and flexible defensive system during the World Cup, and I saw today that it was no different. They were able to quickly annihilate the scoring opportunity left to the English team.
Efforts of an All-Star Goalie
I noticed that Isabel McNab, the English goalie, had an outstanding game today. In one circumstance in the first half, she swatted away three different shots in under a minute. In the second half, more and more kept coming to her as the US really stepped up their attack on the goal.
She saved a staggering 7 shots in the first half, 5 in the second, doing an amazing job of keeping England in the game. Many times, it took several tries for the USA to get a goal. Considering they took over 38 attempts, McNab should keep her head held high after a performance like that.
The Defensive Response
I was surprised to see the USA met with an entirely new breed of defense today. England had both an amazing double team, and utilized a zone defense around the 8 meter.
It was extremely tight right around the goal, making shooting extremely difficult. One solution the Americans used was faking toward the goal in order to draw a shooting space call on England, therefore providing them with a free position shot. This helped them to pull ahead and rack up points where it was needed.
Goals Didn’t Come By Accident
The USA used a few different methods to get to the goal through this tight defense yesterday. But, their hard-earned goals all had one thing in common; patience and hard work.
It often took about two minutes of focused gameplay for the US to find a gap in the zone to set up a shot. They didn’t stop until they found that gap, and they continued to increase their lead.
This game was the closest of all the games played by the USA. It was absolutely nerve-wracking for me to watch, as these teams were fine opponents for each other.
England is a very powerful, compact, and well-operating team. It took an extreme amount of perseverance and hard work on the US team’s account in order to pull ahead. It was a hard fight yesterday, but the USA was willing to just keep swinging.
Leaving It All Out There
What we saw yesterday was definitely an all-out game for both teams. Every ground ball was chased, every faulty pass intercepted, every shot opportunity exposed and used. It was a wonderful performance, and a stunning rivalry to watch.
The US won the loose ball battle, 19-15, while the English edged out the Americans on draw controls, 15-14. Team USA significantly outshot England, 38-16, but starting goalies Devon Wills and Isabel McNab both finished at 43%.
It was a much tighter battle than the scoreboard would indicate. USA would find a way to win their seventh game in a row, 19-8, and will continue on to the Gold Medal game. On Saturday, they’ll face Canada, sitting at 6-1, after topping Australia, 8-6, in their Semifinal match-up. The only Canadian loss of the event was served by the Americans on Sunday, 17-3.
Simple as that! We’ll pick the winners after the big games tomorrow and contact those lucky five individually!