Super Scots defeat USA in Dublin to sit joint top of Pool A
19 June 2011
Gordon Shepherd`s Scotland side have made a mockery of the international rankings and their underdog status by beating the United States 3-1 in the second pool match of the women`s FIH Champions Challenge in Dublin today.
The Scots, a modest 21st in the world, are still unbeaten in this prestigious event after drawing 2-2 with South Africa (seeded 12th) yesterday and have now seen off 13th placed USA today.
Starting the tournament as the bottom seed, Shepherd`s charges have surpassed themselves and now lie second in the pool behind the Springboks on goal difference, as they beat Japan 5-1 in the other match today.
A lone piper heralded Kat Cameron`s 50th cap before the start of the game, but the party went suddenly sour when Katy O`Donnell put the USA ahead in a counter-attack, as she swept the ball past Amy Gibson in the Scotland goal.
However, within a minute the Scots were back on level terms, Nikki Kidd fired her shot through the keeper`s legs at the second penalty corner. Although the Americans perhaps shaded the possession, there were few clear-cut chances and the sides were tied 1-1 at the interval.
The Scots shocked their more fancied opponents at the restart. Ali Bell drove into the circle, released the ball to Sam Judge who fired the ball past the USA keeper to put the Scots 2-1 up. Then there was an almighty let-off with Michelle Vittesse rounding Gibson and inexplicably sent the ball wide of an open goal.
Shepherd maintained that a solid defensive platform was the main strength of his squad, and this was now severely tested by the Americans desperate to get back on level terms, but keeper Gibson and her colleagues managed to stave off five penalty corner chances and other attacking sorties.
A sign of the ethos in the squad, Leigh Fawcett received a body injury with some brave defending, she dusted herself down and proceeded with the game. The Scots did create a few isolated chances, a Kidd penalty corner was stopped by the keeper and then Sam Judge shot wide after good build-up work from Louise Baxter and Holly Cram.
With the Americans pressing for the equaliser, almost inevitably the Scots struck on a counter-attack with three minutes left, Ali Bell drove into the circle to win a penalty corner, Kidd`s effort struck the right hand post and Bell followed up to score from the rebound to kill off the contest. Fawcett received a yellow card just before the end for break-down play, but it had little effect on Scottish celebrations at the final hooter.
After a rest day tomorrow, Scotland coach Gordon Shepherd will prepare his squad to take on Japan in the final pool match, a win here could put the Scots at the top of their pool - a real feather in the cap for Shepherd and his charges.