The USA were certainly not missing opportunities in the first half of their final pool B match. They started the game at a thuderous pace and left their Irish opponents chasing shadows for the first 20 minutes of the game. The result leaves the USA at the top of pool B, while Ireland take fourth place by virtue of Spain's better goal difference.
The opening goal came from a penalty corner – scored by Caroline Nichols (7') – after the USA threw everything at the Irish defence in an aggressive salvo. This goal was followed in quick succession by goals from Kathleen Sharkey (18') – through a mesmerising solo effort – and Katie O'Donnell (24') who is now joint top scorer in the tournament on three goals. Under this sustained onslaught, Ireland seemed to run out of options and half-time couldn't come quickly enough as a chance to regroup.
"This was all part of our plan," said USA captain Lauren Crandall. "We were disappointed that we let the intensity slip in our game against South Africa, so we said we would work to keep working for the full 70 minutes."
The second half yielded no goals, but the USA maintained a hold on possession for the majority of the half. Ireland certainly never ceased attacking, but there was no way through the USA defence for the battling Irish players.
Crandall added: "While we are focusing this week on winning Champions Challenge 1, this is also part of the build-up towards the World Cup. Every opportunity the team has to play together is very important to us."