Balanced Attack Anchors USA Win Over Haudenosaunee
OSHAWA, Ontario — In the legends of ancient Hellenistic society, readers are introduced to a mythical beast called a Hydra — a multi-headed monster that is nearly impossible to kill. Every time you cut off one head, two grow back to replace it.
As opposing teams are learning here at the FIL World Cup, the Team USA offense has a bit of Hydra to it as well.
|Danielle Etrasco scored five
goals and added an assist for the U.S., which improved to 5-0 at
the FIL World Cup by topping Haudenosaunee by a 20-1
© JC Pinheiro
With the Haudenosaunee defense focusing on slowing down the frenetic pace at which Katrina Dowd has racked up points, linemates Danielle Etrasco and Katie Rowan blew up in Thursday's 20-1 quarterfinal victory, totaling mirror-image six-point games. Etrasco scored five times and assisted on one, Rowan scored once and had five assists, including on three of Etrasco's scores.
"It felt good [on the field]. We really just tried to focus on our style of play and our game plan," said Etrasco, who scored her five goals on just five shots. "We just try to stay disciplined and do what we do best."
What Team USA was doing best on Thursday was just about everything it set its mind to. The U.S. scored 15 unanswered goals in the first half and barely let its opponent touch the ball, let alone set up a decent scoring opportunity. It wasn't until late in the second half that a foul call against goalie Meagan Huether gave the Haudenosaunee a scoring chance, which Awehiyo Thomas converted by winning the footrace to the front of the net (with, of course, the head start that the foul call afforded her).
The rest of the time, however, it was all Team USA. Etrasco and Rowan anchored the attack.
"We never try to rely on one person, so we're glad we were able to see something like [Dowd being face-guarded] today and work on some things," Team USA coach Ricky Fried said. "Our biggest strength is our depth. Nobody can take out one player and expect to stop us."
Despite being face-guarded, Dowd did score three goals in the contest, which saw 12 Americans net either a goal or an assist. Ten different players also had draw controls in the contest (Ally Carey led with five) as the team spread the ball around as much as possible, particularly once the pace slowed after gaining an insurmountable lead by midway through the first half.
With hot temperatures — temperatures in Oshawa reached the middle 90s, with the field temperatures soaring easily into the triple digits — the ability to both spread the ball around and rely on top-end team fitness was a boon for Team USA, which must turn around and face England, a 10-0 winner over Wales on Thursday, at 11:30 a.m. Friday.
"One of the things we've talked about is getting better each game of the tournament," Fried said. "But at the end of the day, sometimes it's just as important to win and move on."