Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: USA inch closer to semis with 2-0 win over Italy

A day after breaking Indian hearts with a 1-0 win against the hosts, the United States took a big step towards a semifinal berth from Pool B with a 2-0 victory over Italy in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Astro-Turf Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

 A day after breaking Indian hearts with a 1-0 win against the hosts, the United States took a big step towards a semifinal berth from Pool B with a 2-0 victory over Italy in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers at the Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh Astro-Turf Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

The USA scored once in each half — through Ashley Sessa in the 20th minute and a penalty corner conversion in the 48th minute by Ashley Hoffman as they got the better of the Italian for their second successive win in the four-team group.

Sunday’s win took USA to the top of the Pool with six points from two wins with New Zealand and hosts India yet to play their second match of the event. New Zealand, who defeated Italy 3-0 in their opening match on Saturday, are second with three points and can take the top spot in the standings if they beat India in the last match on Sunday.

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Italy launched the first attack and earned a penalty corner in the first minute but the US defense held strong.

The United States dominated the rest of the quarter going on the attack soon. They could have taken the lead when they bagged a penalty stroke towards the end of the first period but failed.

The United States earned their first penalty corner in the second minute. They failed to capitalise on two more short corners. A foul on their PC earned them a penalty stroke, but Italian goalkeeper Lucia Ines Caruso pulled off a fine save to deny them as the first quarter ended goalless.

However, the US could not be denied for long and they eventually scored the goal they were threatening to do for some time. Ashley Sessa capitalised on a superb move to put them ahead in the 20th minute. They could have doubled the lead two minutes later but failed to convert their fourth PC.

On the other end of the field, Italy, who launched sporadic attacks, too earned a penalty corner but that went abegging.

The third quarter was a bit evenly matched as both teams managed a penalty corner each and wasted it, even though the USA enjoyed greater possession.

David Passmore’s United States team earned a penalty corner early in the fourth quarter but the Italian defence denied them again. But two minutes later in the 48th minute, when Ashley Hoffman converted their seventh PC with a fine attempt to make it 2-0.

The US earned one more penalty corner in the 51st minute but were thwarted again by the Italians.

However, the win improved the United States’ chances of qualifying for the semifinals ahead of their final league match against New Zealand on Tuesday.

(IANS)

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