FIH Pro League Preview: USA v Great Britain

Owsley v USA HWC2018
After a five week break, our women’s team are back in FIH Pro League on Sunday 31 March when they face the USA at Spooky Nook in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Both sides may be striving for their first wins of the tournament (at the time of writing the US are yet to play Belgium on Friday 29 March) in a game which you can watch at 11pm GMT live on BT Sport – here is how they have got on so far.

Familiar faces return alongside exciting new edition for GB
Mark Hager and his team will be boosted by the return of Rio 2016 Olympic champion Laura Unsworth and fellow defender Amy Costello after both missed their opening three games through injury, while goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh is in line to make her first appearance in the FIH Pro League.

They are joined in the squad by 18-year-old University of Nottingham midfielder Alex Malzer - another member of the GB Elite Development Programme (EDP) to graduate to the senior squads - who could become the first player born in the 2000s to represent England or Great Britain if she plays.

It has been a tough start to the competition for Great Britain, having only secured two points from three games, but they have improved with each match played and on another day could have beaten China in their last game.

As it was they showed great character to secure the bonus point by winning the shootout and will be hoping to take that momentum into this game.

Several players in this squad – including Giselle Ansley and Grace Balsdon – made their GB debuts against the USA in a 2-2 draw in San Diego in 2014, while the last game between the two teams came at Rio 2016 with final quarter goals from Sophie Bray and Alex Danson securing a 2-1 win.

Furthermore Lily Owsley could win her 50th Great Britain cap if she features, although Hollie Pearne-Webb is unavailable for this game but will be part of the squad for the Argentina match the following week.

Transitioning US hoping for home advantage
As with their upcoming opponents, it’s certainly not been the start to the FIH Pro League that the Americans would have wanted.

They almost secured an impressive scalp in their opening fixture though, leading Argentina 2-0 away from home in the final quarter only for the world number three team to score twice late on before securing the bonus point in the shootout.

Defeats against The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand followed, although they did run the Hockeyroos very close in Sydney but lost 2-1, with Jodie Kenny and Mariah Williams striking in the final quarter.

This is very much a side in transition, with several key players having recently stepped away from the international scene and boasting one of the youngest squads in the tournament.

But under the leadership of Kathleen Sharkey they continue to improve, with Danielle Grega having impressed so far this tournament with two goals while 17-year-old Mackenzie Allessie has featured in every game so far.

They are highly likely to be without the exciting Erin Matson – who scored a stunning goal against England at last summer’s World Cup – and Margaux Paolino for this game however as they both continue to recover from injury.

The USA come to London on 27 April as they Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre hosts its first FIH Pro League game. In a competition that’s already featured goals and entertainment aplenty already, don’t miss the action – get your tickets here.