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

Goals from Hongxia Li and Mengyu Wang were enough to give China the three points in their final group game, leaving the USA winless and rooted to the foot of the table in Pool A. 

A splendid display of goalkeeping from the USA’s Jackie Kintzer had looked set to secure a point for her side as the No.31 saw off a series of penalty corners from China in the second half. In the end, a precise drag flick from Wang nine minutes from time broke US hearts.

China started the game in the ascendancy, Wang had an early penalty corner well saved by Kintzer, diving to her right.

Craig Parnham’s side threatened sporadically on the break, but their reluctance to commit bodies forward often meant their attacks lost momentum and allowed China to get back to defend. On the first occasion in the match where they injected some pace, the USA took the lead. An excellent cross from the right found Paige Selenski sliding in ahead of the defender to touch home.

The lead lasted just three minutes. Xiayun Xi did well to drive to the baseline and pull the ball back where she found Li who made no mistake to notch her fourth goal of the competition.

China threatened again almost immediately, this time it was Qingling Song who got round the back but Kintzer was alert and cleared the danger with her stick. Xi had a glorious chance to give her side the lead but she opted for power rather than placement when given time and space in the D and only succeeded in hitting straight at the goalkeeper.

As the half drew to a close Wang was kept out yet again by Kintzer from another penalty corner.

Straight after the break, Li should have scored her second, with time and space in the D she somehow pulled her shot wide. The game started to open up and Katie Reinprecht went close for the USA before Michelle Vittese drove into the D only to be kept out by Ji Li, the replacement goalkeeper on at half time.

Wang resumed her battle with Kintzer from two more penalty corners, but yet again the goalkeeper excelled and turned both efforts away with her stick.

China tried a different routine on the next corner, slipping the ball to Sinan Sun to try her luck, but as before, Kintzer saved. With 9 minutes left on the clock, Wang finally got the better of her adversary, finding the one spot Kintzer couldn’t reach, the bottom corner to the goalkeeper’s left.

The USA tried admirably to find an equaliser but were frustrated as Li saved from Vittese and then Katelyn Falgowski before Shannon Taylor somehow slapped wide at the far post with the goal at her mercy.

The USA had showed some good passages of play, but their efforts yielded another close defeat. For China, they await the outcome of Argentina vs Italy to see where in the pool they finish up.

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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