Spain secured a historic victory over the United States in their first competitive encounter in fifteen matches, winning a penalty shootout 12-12 after regulation time had ended in a draw.
The match was decided by the finest of margins, with Maddie Musselman missing her penalty in the shootout and all five of Spain’s shooters – Forca, Ruiz, Leiton, Crespi and Prats – converting their opportunities with aplomb past the American goalkeeper, Ashleigh Johnson.
The game itself was not played at a frenetic pace, and it took a goal from Rachel Fattal with just 15 seconds left on the clock to turn a rather lacklustre affair into a match that would ultimately be decided by a thrilling penalty shootout. Bea Ortiz and Judith Forca were the stars for Spain, both scoring four goals apiece in a closely contested encounter between two formidable opponents.
The win today was the first time Spain have beaten the United States at a major international tournament for the first time since 2013 (World Championship quarter-finals)
Spain 17 – 15 United States (2-2, 3-4, 4-5, 3-1, PSO: 5-3)
Spain: L. Ester, C. Nogue, P. Prats 3, B. Ortiz 4, N. Perez, P. Crespi 1, E. Ruiz 2, P. Pena 1, J. Forca 4, P. Camus 1, M. Garcia, P. Leiton 1, M. Terre
USA: A. Johnson, M. Musselman 2, T. Prentice 1, R. Fattal 2, J. Bonaguidi 2, M. Steffens 2, E. Ausmus 2, A. Stryker, D. Mammolito, R. Gazzaniga 1, A. Cohen, J. Raney 3, A. Longan.
The match got off to an even start, with the scoreline level at 2-2 just eight minutes in. Despite early defensive lapses from both sides, neither team was able to gain a significant advantage in attack. It was Spain who took the lead first, with Paula Prats of Mediterrani tapping the ball in adeptly on the post. However, the Americans were quick to respond, scoring two easy goals through Rachel Fattal and Rachel Gazzaniga. The Spanish defence was caught napping, allowing the US to take the lead temporarily, but they were soon pegged back by a clinical finish from Bea Ortiz.
The second period saw both teams step up their attacking game, with both sides making the most of powerplay moves. The US had a slight edge at halftime, leading 6-5. They quickly extended their lead in the second half, with Jordan Raney and Maggie Steffens both finding the back of the net. However, Spain refused to be intimidated, with Judith Forca scoring two goals in quick succession to level the score again. Julia Bonaguidi then gave the US the lead, but the Spaniards hit back with Bea Ortiz’s second goal of the day.
The Americans enjoyed their best spell of the game in the second half of the third period, with Maddie Musselman and Maggie Steffens both scoring to put their team ahead by two scores for the first time. But Spain refused to back down, and soon they were back level again, with Paula Camus and Paula Prats both grabbing their second goals of the match. Bea Ortiz then gave Spain the lead for the first time, tucking away a 5m penalty with confidence. However, Rachel Fattal’s late goal ensured that the match would go to a penalty shootout.
In the end, it was Spain who emerged victorious, with Maddie Musselman missing the only penalty of the shootout, which was tipped onto the post by Martina Terre.
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