Reading’s Alex Danson got GB’s USA friendly series off to a great start scoring a hat trick  to register a promising 3-0 win at the Olympic Training Center  Chula Vista, California. Based in San Diego, the 24 strong squad will spend two weeks in the Golden State playing five games against the Pan American Cup gold medalists.

The game was the  USA Women’s National Team’s  first game  since winning  gold at the XVI Pan American Games in October where the current world Champions Argentina took silver. The USA Field Hockey post match report spoke of “ a rusty performance and losing to a more polished Great Britain. The game saw Sally Walton , the only North of England club  based premiership player  from  Bowdon Hightown  racking up her combined 100th appearance as a Great Britain and England player .

Bowdon Hightown England &GB's Sally Walton's landmark game

The game also marked the 50th international appearance  for newly wed Denver based USA squad member  Maren (Ford) Langford. The GB squad includes  Canterbury’s Dilly Newton (who must wait to make  her first competitive senior international match.)  University of Birmingham’s Susie Gilbert and Leicester’s Katie Long are back on duty  both having missed  the EuroHockey Nations Championships  as a result of  injury. Susie came on as a sub but  Katie sat this one out.

Reading England & GB Top Gun Alex Danson

Alex’s  home club Reading go into the Christmas break at home  top of the Investec Premier Division and she is currently  the league’s top goal scorer. So it was fitting that within three minutes of the start she had scored in open play (as were all her successful strikes) taking advantage of sterling work by her Reading team mate , Scotland’s Laura Barlett ( recently voted British Olympic Association Athlete of the Year  for 2011.)  Receiving the ball from her , Alex  pushed  into the circle and drove it home  having , as the USA report put it “taken advantage of confusion in front of goal.” The GB players pressed forward frequently asking questions of  the USA defence and  thus it was on just eleven minutes , Alex received the ball on the edge of the circle and put a peach of a ball past keeper Jackie Kintzer who apparently had wrongly thought the shot was taken from outside the D. The USA didn’t take it lying down and applied significant pressure in some spells as the first half ticked away but the GB defence covered everything thrown at them . With the first half rapidly closing ,  GB were  awarded  two consecutive penalty corners. The first short actually crossed the line but the umpire had already blown and it was retaken .  Kintzer pulled off a great save to push it out of harm’s way.


Sally Walton celebrated her 100th international start with a stunning interception in defence during the game.

Clearly USA coach Lee Bodimeade had tried to make some adjustments at the outset of  the second half  and felt the team “ played stronger and created some quality chances in front of the GB goal but were unable to capitalise”  As it happened , the adjustments brought little reward and  the second half panned out  much the same way as the first. Great Britain were awarded four more  penalty corners with Kintzer in great form and the USA defence remaining solid denying  both Kate Walsh (Reading) and Leicester’s Crista Cullen ( in her 150th international ).

Alex  hit what was to be the winner with fourteen minutes left on the clock. New Yorker Melissa Gonzalez  had made a passing error on the  twenty-five yard line which quick thinking Alex intercepted , darted to the left of the circle and fired home to complete her hat trick.  USA made a late surge in the final moments of the game winning two penalty corners  but  Abi Walker, EuroCanterbury’s  goalie hardly troubled throughout the game saved both shots and denied the hosts a consolation goal .

For the USA Bodimeade was positive after the game saying “”One of the key points we want to get out of this series is to have a good look at our players against a very quality opponent,” He continued , “The series will give us some good insight as to what we need to do as a team going forward from this point. Today, I don’t think we adjusted well to a style of hockey that we have not seen in a bit. We were rusty and need to be better than what we produced today.”

GB and England coach, Danny Kerry paid credit to the team for such a positive start, “It was a good first performance which generated a lot of opportunities for us. We defended really well and it was evident that the elements of play we’ve been working on in practice were visible in our match play today. It was a really strong team effort.”

Engalnd &GB's inspirational coach Danny Kerry

Before the series Dan Kerry had indicated that  the fortnight would be used for  warm weather training as well as valuable pre 2012 match play. He was also offered an assessment of what the GB  team could expect. He said “ The USA team is dynamic, hard working and to a player they are all competitors which will lead to keenly contested matches.” He also expected they’d play with confidence following their recent success in the Pan Am Games. He continued ““For the first time in this Olympic cycle, the trip allows the Great Britain team to compete in a test series overseas. Having missed out on selection through injury in the summer, a number of players also get an opportunity. We will continue to develop our level of team play and train hard between the matches. The relative warmth of San Diego compared to a British winter will also guarantee us a good two week training environment.”



Dates & Times of the other matches in local PST time.( GMT -8 hours) December 13 @1pm, December 14 @1pm, December 16 @12pm, December 18 @11am. Admittance is free and open to the public. The Olympic Training Center is located at 2800 Olympic Parkway, Chula Vista, CA. you can also follow games live on Twitter @USAFieldHockey..

Full USA Squad here http://usafieldhockey.com/athletes/tag/1343

(GB Team data courtesy England Hockey)

Abi Walker (Canterbury) Goalkeeper
Crista Cullen (Leicester) Defender
Emily Maguire (Reading) Defender
Laura Unsworth (Loughborough Students) Defender
Kate Walsh (Reading) Defender
Ashleigh Ball (Slough) Midfielder
Helen Richardson (Reading) Midfielder
Laura Bartlett (Reading) Forward
Nicola White (Slough) Forward
Alex Danson (Reading ) Forward
Hannah Macleod (Leicester) Forward

Substitutes used
Natalie Seymour (Canterbury) Defender
Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown) Defender
Susie Gilbert (University of Birmingham) Midfielder
Chloe Rogers (Leicester) Midfielder
Sarah Thomas (No Club) Forward

Did not play
Madeleine Hinch (Leicester) Goalkeeper
Dilly Newton (Canterbury) Defender
Anne Panter (Leicester) Defender
Sam Quek (Reading) Defender
Vikki Bunce (Dundee Wanderers) Midfielder
George Twigg (Clifton) Midfielder
Rebecca Herbert (Leicester) Forward
Katie Long (Leicester) Forward

Visit  the official great Britain Hockey website here  TEAM GB

Visit  USA Hockey website here   USA

Dates & Times of the other matches in local PST time.( GMT -8 hours) December 13 @1pm, December 14 @1pm, December 16 @12pm, December 18 @11am. Admittance is free and open to the public. The Olympic Training Center is located at 2800 Olympic Parkway, Chula Vista, CA. you can also follow games live on Twitter @USAFieldHockey..




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