The United States concluded its Long Beach series with a thrilling 11-10 victory over Spain, bringing its record to three wins and one loss.
Team USA left it late though in the game, only taking the lead for the first time ninety seconds from time, with Jewel Roemer’s third goal, which turned out to be the winner.
Roemer and Jenna Flynn were in excellent form, both netting hat-tricks in the game for the United States. In general, the Americans were especially effective on power plays, scoring nine times.
Spain contributed to a high-quality match, but their lack of discipline earned them twice as many exclusions as their hosts (14). They had difficulty dealing with Tara Prentice, who plays water polo for Sant Andreu in Spain and racked up an impressive six exclusions.
Sabadell’s Judith Forca, the summer’s leading scorer at the World Championships, was the game’s top scorer with four goals. Ariadna Ruiz (Sant Andreu), the other lefty on the team, also had an sharp game, scoring two impressive goals.
United States 11 – 10 Spain (3-4, 3-2, 3-3, 2-1)
United States: A. Johnson, E. Ausmus, T. Prentice 1, R. Fattal 1, A. Johnson 1, E. Lineback 1, J. Sekulic, J. Roemer 3, R. Neushul 1, D. Mammolito, J. Flynn 3, B. Weber, J. Raney, A. Longan, E. Woodhead
Spain: L. Ester, C. Nogue, A. Espar 1, A. Ruiz 2, N. Perez 1, P. Crespi, E. Ruiz 1, P. Pena, J. Forca 4, P. Camus, M. Garcia 1, P. Leiton, M. Terre
Spain led by one goal after eight minutes, and it could have been two goals if Elena Ruiz had not hit the crossbar from a 5-meter penalty midway through the first quarter. Both sides moved the ball well, but the Spanish were the more threatening.
Judith Forca’s powerful shot past Ashleigh Johnson was followed by Elena Ruiz’s deflected shot from the perimeter to give the Spanish an early 2-0 advantage.
Emma Lineback, who has been outstanding this week, scored the first American goal with a drilled shot to the far post, but Spain led 3-1 thanks to a classic goal from the centre by Maica Garcia, 32.
The United States scored twice on the power play during the second portion of the first quarter while man-advantaged. Rachel Fattal scored after Ryan Neushul played an excellent pass to the post for her, and then Neushul herself scored on an extra-man opportunity.
Forca scored early in the second, but the United States quickly tied the score at 5-5; Roemer scored at the near post, and Ava Johnson converted on post.
Jenna Flynn’s wonderful extra-player shot on the left into the top right corner cancelled out Nona Perez’s early goal, but Team USA were growing into the game and asserting themselves in the duel. They were unlucky to hit the post twice late in the half, as the score was level 6-6 at the half-time break.
Anni Espar scored a brilliant chip before Judith Forca scored her hat-trick from a 5-meter penalty to put Spain back in front by two goals in the third.
But again, the United States exploited the extra-player situations that came their way, with Tara Prentice and Jenna Flynn scoring to pull Adam Krikorian’s team back level.
It looked like the Spanish would head into the last leading by one, after Ariadna Ruiz netted her second goal of the game, and then Ryan Neushul saw her 5m penalty saved by Martina Terre. But Jenna Flynn made no blunder in converting her 5m penalty for her third goal of the game.
Judith Forca gave Spain a 10-9 lead late, but Ashleigh Johnson made 5 fantastic saves to prevent any more Spanish goals from being scored. Jewel Roemer scored twice, and the game-winning goal was an excellent effort that beat the near-side block.