Rosario Luchetti’s penalty corner deflection two minutes from time gave Argentina a hard-fought win over old foes the USA. The Stars and Stripes had won the two teams’ last two encounters, but it was not to be their day as Las Leonas did just enough to secure the three points.
Argentina set their stall out to attack from the off, Martina Cavallero was bright and busy in the opening exchanges, showing good pace and skill to get away down the left, only to meet Jackie Kintzer in the USA goal, who cleared the danger.
The USA had the first penalty corner chance of the match, Rachel Dawson had two bites of the cherry, but her drag flick was saved and her follow up nestled in the side netting. Dawson was having an imposing game, breaking up waves of Argentina attacks in front of the rest of the USA defence, using all her reach and physical presence to great advantage.
Chances were scarce in the first half, but the USA were holding their own against their illustrious opponents with some neat and tidy approach play, just lacking the final ball to put Las Leonas under real pressure.
At the other end, the Stars and Stripes were defending for their lives against the quick movement off the ball of the Argentine forwards, but they were unable to prevent Carla Rebecchi breaking through late on in the half. The No.11, usually deadly in front of goal, steadied her self, and promptly blazed her shot over the bar.
The second half followed much the same pattern, Maria Fernandez flicked an effort goalwards from open play which was repelled by Kintzer, whilst at the other end, the USA wasted a penalty corner by failing to trap the injection.
Dawson went close with another low drag flick but Maria Aladro saved low to her right and then watched as Katie O’Donnell scuffed the rebound wide. Rebecchi showed great invention and skill to manufacture some space in the D, but Kintzer made a splendid save and it looked like it would end all square. That was until the 68th minute, when Luchetti dived in to get a vital defelction on a penalty corner flick to divert the ball over the goalkeeper and give her team a very valuable three points.
Argentina were not at their best, but will be pleased to have come out on top against one of their perceived bogey teams. The US will be happy with their work rate, and on that showing should cause other teams some problems. It is clear Craig Parnham has work to do, but the foundations seem to be there.
Both sides are in action tomorrow, Argentina face China, who were also winners toaday, whilst the US will hope to bounce back against Italy.