Investec World League Pool A: USA 1-2 Italy.

Stefania Tosco’s dramatic last-minute winner sparked jubilant scenes as Italy upset the USA with a hard-fought 2-1 victory here at the Investec World League in London, leaving the Stars and Stripes rooted to the bottom of the pool after two games. With both sides hoping to bounce back from defeats in yesterday’s games the match was an understandably cagey affair. Chances were hard to come by, despite the tireless efforts of USA captain Katie O’Donnell who was bright and threatening throughout the 70 minutes. It was indeed the USA who took the lead in the 22nd minute. Jill Witmer got round to the baseline on the right, cutting back to Michelle Kasold who calmly slotted home.

Kasold had a good chance to double the advantage shortly afterwards but her snapshot from the top of the D was comfortably saved by Martina Chirico.

In the 28th minute, Italy drew level. Macarena Ronsisvalli showed good skills to dance away from her marker, entering the D and slamming a good low shot into the far corner past the outstretched leg of Jackie Kintzer.

Tosco had a good opportunity to put her side ahead, latching onto a long pass into the circle but her shot was dealt with by Kintzer diving to her right.

After half time the USA threatened early on. A good exchange of passes between Witmer and Katelyn Falgowski, resulting on the former shooting wide from near the penalty spot. Chirico did well to keep out a Rachel Dawson penalty corner as the Italians came under sever pressure. Chirico did even better minutes later to bail her side out. O’Donnell picked Agustina Di Bernardo’s pocket in the D and was promptly fouled by the defender, winning a penalty stroke. Caroline Nichols strode forward to take it, but somehow Chirico got to the ball and then watched on as it rolled agonisingly along the goal line and stayed out.

Things got even better for the Azzurri in the last minute. A penalty corner was only partially cleared and in amongst the melee the ball broke to Tosco at the back post, who stabbed home to give her side the points.

The joy was obvious amongst the Italian players as they embraced each other at the final whistle knowing this was a a fantastic three points. For the USA, a missed penalty and some good opportunities from open play went begging and once again, they are left wondering what might have been.

Both sides have a rest day tomorrow before resuming action on Tuesday.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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