VOLOS, Greece -- Behind a strong defensive first half, the USA Women's Junior National Team topped Italy 8-5 on day two of the 2013 FINA Women's Junior World Championships. Rachel Fattal scored four goals in the victory and Ashleigh Johnson went the distance in net, stopping eight shots.
Team USA moves on to play New Zealand tomorrow at 7:45 a.m. (PT) to close out group play. For a complete tournament schedule, click here.
Both teams were slow to get started in the first period until Italy broke through with a goal with 3:58 to go in the quarter. While Italy went up 1-0 it would also be the only goal they would score in the first half. Fattal came back with a goal for the United States moments later and the match was tied at 1-1 heading into the second.
In the second period, the Americans' defense stood tall while Ashley Grossman scored a goal (4:11) to take a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The offense picked up in the third period and the United States got it started with two straight goals from Kiley Neushul and UCLA's Williams. Italy cut its deficit to 4-2 with a goal at the 4:57 mark of the third period. The United States came right back on its next posession when Fattal completed her hat trick to give the USA a 5-2 lead. Italy would score two out of the next three goals to close out the period, trailing 6-4 through three quarters.
Italy continued its comeback charge in the fourth period with a goal in the opening minute to close the gap to 6-5. They would get no closer as the USA defense recorded a shutout the rest of the way. Monica Vavic and Fattal added goals to rebuild the USA lead to 8-5 as the Americans would go on to take the match.
"Defensive intensity set the tone for the game," said USA Head Coach Dan Klatt. "The players had great focus on 5 on 6 and 6 on 5 which ultimately led to our success. We are satisfied with today's result, but we must begin planning for tomorrow's game."
Italy vs. USA
Italy Goals: Alessia Millo 3, Sara Dario, Laura Repetto
USA Saves: Ashleigh Johnson 8