March 1, 2023 — Shooting out a shootout win

Three and a half months ago, Charlotte de Vries was staring at a hockey ball, sitting on a white line 23 meters from a goal frame stationed at the east end of The Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex on the campus of the University of Maryland.

On that cold autumn day, the Syracuse senior charged at the ball when the whistle blew to start the sixth shootout round of an NCAA quarterfinal match between Syracuse and Maryland. Her shot attempt went wide of Terp goalie Paige Kieft and the goal cage. That goal sent Syracuse home from the Division I tournament.

But that shootout attempt did not define de Vries as a player. Far from it. As a member of the U.S. United Eagles, she was given the fifth and final shootout attempt in an FIH Pro League game against Australia earlier today.

Her goal broke a goalless regulation draw and won the shootout by a score of 2-1 in a game played at Hobart, Australia.

This scenario was probably unimaginable several months ago on more than one level. Mainly, however, the United States was able to get two out of three points from Australia on the Hockeyroos’ own patch.

The U.S. had an execrable run of form in the last couple of years of the Pro League, but now sit in sixth place in the league table with a win and two draws in five matches. Sure, there’s about 70 percent of games yet to be played, but this young and resilient team, and a defense playing far beyond its years, are rounding into form in time for a good run at Olympic qualifying.

Of course, the major obstacle in the way, at least in the Pan Am region, is Argentina, which is the States’ next opponent.

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