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US Olympic Women's Field Hockey Team: Updated News, Roster & Analysis

Darin PikeContributor IJanuary 18, 2017

US Olympic Women's Field Hockey Team: Updated News, Roster & Analysis

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    The U.S. women have not exactly been a contender in Olympic field hockey. They have exactly one medal to their credit, a bronze in 1984. 

    Still, that boycott-impacted bronze is one more than the men have, who did not even qualify for the 2012 Games.

    It wouldn't be fair to say the team is completely overlooked, as they are coming off a gold-medal performance at the 2011 Pan Am Games.

    However, teamusa.org hasn't updated the women's field hockey "Road to London" section to include those results. 

    The following slides will provide some pertinent information on the team and discuss their potential to get the first American field hockey medal in a full-strength Olympics.

Final Roster

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    The American team begins play in London with a solid mix of youth and experience. They return seven players from their 2008 Olympic squad that consisted of 16 Olympics rookies.

     

     

    Active Players:

     

    Melissa Gonzalez

    Rachel Dawson

    Michelle Vittese

    Amy Swensen (GK)

    Keli Smith Puzo

    Paige Selenski

    Julia Reinprecht

    Katie O'Donnell

    Michelle Kasold

    Caroline Nichols

    Katie Reinprecht

    Claire Laubach

    Katelyn Falgowski

    Shannon Taylor

    Kayla Bashore Smedley

    Lauren Crandall

    Reserves:

     

    Michelle Cesan

    Jaclyn Kintzer (GK)

Key Players

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    Katie O’Donnell

    O'Donnell was named the 2010 Sportswoman of the Year and has been a member of the U.S. women's team since 2005.

    Her first accomplishment with the U.S. women's field hockey team was becoming the youngest player to earn an international cap. She did so at the age of 16. She has gone on to add countless other marks, but an Olympic medal is the most important on her horizon.

    O'Donnell also won two NCAA National Championships for Maryland.

     

    Amy Swensen

    Swensen is the key to the U.S. defense and has been referred to as the best goal keeper in women's field hockey. She was an All-Star at the 2006 World Cup and a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

    She took some time away from the sport but couldn't resist the pull of another shot at the Olympics. She rejoined the team in 2011 with the goal of winning an Olympic medal.

     

    Keli Smith-Puzo

    Smith-Puzo is the senior member of the U.S. squad, as she's been on the Women's National Team since 2001. She has over 150 international caps but took some time away from the sport to have her second child.

    Smith-Puzo returned for the Pan American Games and will be a vital part of the U.S. Olympic roster.

Main Challengers

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    Team USA will play in Pool B. While they won't face the top-ranked Netherlands, the pool consists of Australia, Argentina and Germany. All three of these squads are good enough to reach the medals podium.

    However, only the top-two teams from each pool advance to the medal round. There will be very little margin for error for Team USA and they will need to pull points from matches against all three of the aforementioned squads.

    A full list of the teams in their pool can be found below, but here is a brief summary on their primary competitors:

     

    Netherlands

    Starting with the top-seed in the Olympics, the Netherlands will be the team to beat in Pool A. If the Americans reach the gold-medal game this will be their likely foe.

    The Netherlands are certainly beatable. They lost to Argentina in the semifinals of the 2012 Hockey Champions Trophy. Granted, Argentina won 2-0 on penalty shots following a 2-2 tie in regulation.

    The U.S. will be pleased to face the Netherlands, as it means they are at least playing for a medal.

     

    Argentina

    Argentina currently holds the No. 2 ranking from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). They might be the top-ranked team had they not lost to the U.S. in the Pan Am Games.

    Rankings have not been updated following the 2012 Hockey Championships, though. Argentina took the gold medal, beating Great Britain 1-0.

    The U.S. is very familiar with Argentina, as they followed up their Pan Am win with a series of four games in Virginia in June. The U.S. posted a win, one loss and two ties in that series.

    Their Pool B game against Argentina will come down to the team that is best prepared to play on that day.

     

    Germany

    Germany has been fairly dominant in international play, but they did lose the gold medal match to Netherlands, 3-0, in the 2011 EuroHockey Nations Championship. They took fourth at the 2008 Olympics.

    Germany also just missed a medal in the 2012 Hockey Championships. They dropped their semi-final game to Great Britain 2-0 and fell to the Netherlands 5-4 in the bronze-medal game. 

    The U.S. needs to pull off a win against Germany to help secure a trip to the medal round.

     

    Pool B Teams:

    Qualification:

    FIH Ranking

    Argentina           

    Invitee based on rankings

    2

    Germany

    Silver, 2011 EuroHockey Nations Championship

    3

    New Zealand

    Gold, 2011 Oceania Cup

    6

    Australia

    Silver, 2011 Oceania Cup

    7

    United States

    Gold, 2011 Pan Am Games

    10

    South Africa

    Won Olympic Qualifying Tournament 1

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Prediction

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    It is difficult to get a handle on how the U.S. will perform. They aren't getting much international attention, witnessed by their low ranking. 

    However, they did win the 2011 Pan Am games in impressive fashion. They beat Chile (FIH No. 17), Cuba (24) and Mexico (30) by a combined 16-1.

    Chile was their tightest match with a 2-1 margin.

    The medal round began with a 4-2 victory over Canada (20). The surprise came in the finals, where the U.S. beat then top-ranked Argentina.

    Team USA has continued to play well, winning two of three games in a four-team round-robin series in Australia in April.

    They also matched up well against Argentina in four exhibition games in June. The contests ended in a win for each squad and two ties.

    Team USA has the talent to play with every other team in this tournament and a gold medal is a realistic goal. However, advancing from team play won't be an easy task.

    Look for them to advance to the medal round though, edging out Germany, New Zealand and Australia.

    They may end up with a tough, but winnable, semifinal match against Great Britain or face the Netherlands to reach the gold-medal game.

    Making the medal round will be a major accomplishment and they should land on the podium.

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