The U.S. closed out group play with an easy 26-13 victory over the previously unbeaten Dominican Republic. Unlike its first two matches, Team USA, left no doubt as to who was the better team as it dominated the match from start to finish. Particularly encouraging was a stifling defense that limited the Dominicans to just 13 goals in 60 minutes.
Team USA was led in scoring by newcomer, Ashley Butler, with 7 goals. Kathy Darling had 4 goals, while Ashley VanRyn, Elizabeth Hartnett and Jence Rhoads had 3 a piece. Rounding out the scoring were Jennifer Fithian with 2 and Nicole Andersen, Julia Taylor and Shani Levinkind with 1 each.
Note: Nicole Andersen injured her knee in the first half and her status for tonight’s game is unknown. Zoe Lombard has been cleared to play.
The U.S. will now play Greenland in the first semifinal tonight at 1730 EDST. According to the U.S. Federation website a livestream of the match will be provided by Greenland supporter Boas Moller at his Facebook page: Link
The second semifinal will be between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic at 1930 EDST.
Ashley Butler, left handed and just 19, has been a welcome addition to the U.S. providing a much needed scoring threat from the right hand side of the court. She has dual German-American citizenship and has been playing since age 10. She currently plays for HSG Hude Falkenberg in the Nordsee Oberliga (Germany’s 4th Division). At 5’4”, she might be a bit undersized at back court, but against NORCA level competition she more than compensates that shortcoming with quickness and good court sense. Against stiffer competition she may struggle to score at 9 meters and so could be a better fit at right wing. As a lefty with good quickness she could progress through the club ranks at the right wing position and could be a mainstay with the U.S. national team for many years to come.
Regarding the upcoming semifinal, the U.S. can take comfort in making it through group play undefeated and finishing group play with a resounding, dominating win. But, hopefully, it’s a reserved confidence as Greenland showed that it could compete with the U.S. Key to the U.S., as usual, will be controlling the pace of play and avoiding turnovers. In a helter skelter match anything can happen, but in a methodical game where the U.S. can set up their half court defense, they can dominate and control the match.