Ireland fall to USA despite gutsy display
Defining week for side after victory against Korea and two World Cup-bound sides
Emma Smyth: Converted a second minute penalty corner. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
The Irish dream of a first Champions Challenge I title came unstuck at the hands of the USA in Glasgow last night, showing their class to coolly come back from a controversial early deficit to win 3-1.
Nonetheless, this was a ground-breaking week for Darren Smith’s side, beating a top-10 outfit (Korea) for the first time in many a year as well as dismissing two World Cup-bound sides from the competition.
The second of those was South Africa in a breathless semi-final with Nikki Evans’s winner sparking wild celebrations on Saturday. But the turnaround time was quick and left them with a rematch with group rivals the US, falling 3-0 that time around.
Ireland got off to a flyer, landing a second minute penalty corner that Emma Smyth scored, albeit in hotly contested circumstances. A feature of this week has been Ireland’s unique variety of set piece and they came up with a new variation that found Megan Frazer five metres outside the circle.
What was not intended, though, was her miscue which flew head height at Smyth who volleyed home. The Americans initially thought the goal was disallowed amid confusion between the umpires and embarked on a counterattack. But the goal stood, much to the US bench’s chagrin.
They did not let that feeling linger, though, and set about squeezing the life out of the Irish defence, drawing a large number of loose passes and turnover ball. The lead was wiped out in the 25th minute when Paige Selenski provided an exquisite overhead control and finishing off with her second touch.
Caroline Nichols repeated her penalty corner prowess from the group stages, sweeping hard enough down the right channel to make it 2-1 at the break. Katie O’Donnell put the game to bed 13 minutes into the second half when she converted a rebound.