Craig Parnham’s USA side stunned much-fancied England with a 2-1 win in their opening Pool B match. Goals from Paige Selenski and Kelsey Kolojejchick, both from first half penalty corners, did the damage, although Kate Richardson-Walsh pulled one back it was not enough.
The USA got off to a dream start. From their first penalty corner in the third minute Paige Selenski, on her 100th international appearance tipped in at the far post after Caroline Nichols found her with a slapped pass.
England hit back and forced two consecutive penalty corners of their own but Jackie Kintzer was equal to the task turning both efforts from Kate Walsh around the post. The introduction of Lily Owsley to the fray injected some life into England’s efforts as the 19-year-old’s pace and determination forced the USA onto the back foot but then on 15 minutes Craig Parnham’s side doubled their lead from another penalty corner. Nichols again supplied the pass, going to the other side where Kelsey Kolojejchick deflected into the roof of the net.
The USA were full of running and invention, finding pockets of space in the channels and giving Jason Lee’s side a torrid time, whilst England were still to really get going in the match. Selenski almost made it 3-0 as she cut back in from the baseline on the left and rifled a vicious shot just wide of the far post. England forced another two penalty corners but again Kintzer saw them off with two smart saves from Richardson-Walsh and Unsworth, forcing England to go in at the break 2-0 down.
England threw everything at the USA in the second half but found Jackie Kintzer in the American goal in inspired form. First the goalkeeper made a stunning tip over from a Ricahrdson-Walsh penalty corner and then she got down well to repel another from the same player. With 15 minutes left on the clock, the England captain finally got the better of the goalkeeper, deceiving her with a penalty corner which went to the goalkeeper’s left to reduce the arrears.
England continued to press but were unable to find a way through and Craig Parnham could celebrate a win over the side he was assistant coach to at London 2012.
A disappointed Jason Lee said afterwards:
“We’re very disappointed with the result. I don’t think it has to derail our ambitions for the rest of the tournament, in many ways it focuses our minds a little bit more as we’re running out of slip room. Fundamentally we didn’t start particularly well. The first ten minutes didn’t reflect our ability at all. We created a lot of good chances. Their corner defence was good but on another day we might have taken our chances and won the game.”
England will now aim to bounce back in their next pool game against China on Tuesday.