Pre-Olympic tour: Indian women's hockey team loses US tour opener

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Manheim (Pennsylvania), July 19: The Indian women's hockey team went down fighting 2-3 to their US counterparts in the opening match of their pre-Olympic tour here on Tuesday.

Kathleen Sharkey (6th minute), Katie Bam (31st) and Kelsey Kolojejchick (48th) scored for the hosts while Preeti Dubey (33rd) and Deepika (38th) reduced the margin for India.

Pre-Olympic tour: Indian women's hockey team loses US tour opener

Both teams came into the match looking to play cautious hockey and avoid defeat. The game's tone was set with both looking to hold fort and react through counter-attacks.

The US team took the lead via Kathleen in the opening quarter. In an otherwise timid first half, India's Vandana Katariya's attempt at goal was unsuccessful as the ball hit the post.

India came back tougher in the second quarter and started making inroads into the US defence. They soon started playing strategically compact hockey, denying the US players the ball in scoring areas. The two teams went into the half time break with the hosts leading 1-0.

The third quarter was a hard fought battle, as India looked to get back into the game and started pushing forward in numbers. The US team, defending deep and working on the counter, were lucky when Katie scored their second goal via a penalty corner. India countered quickly and capitalised on their advantage as Preeti scored the their first goal.

Deepika scored the equaliser soon after with both teams entering the final quarter locked at 2-2. However, the final quarter saw the hosts take the lead with Kelsey scoring their third goal.

"These matches are extremely crucial as our final preparations for Rio Olympics. We had a neck-neck fight today, the girls played well. We are going to analyse the loopholes and better on in our subsequent matches," India's chief coach Neil Hawgood said after the match.

India's next match with Champions Trophy bronze medalists US is on July 21.

IANS

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