Cherry Hill's Vittese assists U.S. in upset field hockey win over Argentina

Posted: August 01, 2012

LONDON — Michelle Vittese's diagonal pass from just outside the left side of the circle somehow sneaked by four purple Argentina jerseys.

The perfect pass from the first-time Olympian found Shannon Taylor streaking down the right side. Extending her stick, Taylor tapped the ball past goalie Florencia Mutio while falling to the ground with her defender.

Taylor's shot in the first half was the only ball to find the back of the net, and lifted the United States (1-1), ranked 10th in the world, to an upset, 1-0 victory over No. 2 Argentina (1-1) on on Tuesday night at Riverbank Arena.

"Actually, [Argentina] gave me a little bit of space," Vittese, a native of Cherry Hill, N.J. who starred at Camden Catholic, said about her assist. "They really did, and I don't know why they did that. I gave myself an angle to feed it through across the face.

“We've been really working on the offensive part of that, like goal-scoring positions and goal-scoring opportunities. [Taylor] really helped me out on that one. She put a ball home and it was awesome."

The contest was a rematch of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the United States upset top-ranked and defending world champion Argentina, 4-2, in the finals to book the team's 2012 Olympic Games ticket to London.

Vittese said the atmosphere at the two tournaments was a little different, with the Olympics having much more on the line.

"You have to show up every single second," Vittese said. "Any time you let your head down people capitalize. If you don't show up for 70 minutes, people will just take what you give them."

After a 2-1 loss to No. 3 Germany in the Americans' first game, Vittese said the stunning victory "adds fuel to the fire and keeps us going."

Both teams registered three shots. U.S. goalie Amy Swensen, from Grantville, Pa., turned them all away, including Argentina's three penalty corners. Taylor tallied two shots on goal with Shavertown, Pa., native Paige Selenski getting the third.

With 13 minutes to go in the first half, Argentina's Martina Cavallero was unable to capitalize right in front of the United States goal. Swensen, a two-time Olympian, dove to her right and, while on the ground, swung her stick at the ball and knocked it away.

"They are such a good opponent," Swensen said. "They are such a huge rival for us, being in the Pan American region. Every time we play against them it's a chance for us to really compete and to push ourselves against one of the top [teams] in the world."

The United States' pool consists of Argentina, Germany, No. 6 New Zealand, No. 7 Australia and No. 12 South Africa. The U.S. will face Australia on Thursday.

"The win obviously puts us back in the tournament," Vittese said. "Our bracket, anything can really happen. We have been playing these teams a fair bit. [The win] just gives us more confidence."

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