‘We have made significant progress from last year,’ USA Women’s National Field Hockey head coach David Passmore on the second leg of the 2022-23 FIH Pro-League

There’s a lot of work to do before the USA Women’s National Field Hockey team departs to compete in the 2023 Pan American Games. 


The games are an Olympic qualifier for the 2024 summer games in Paris, France. Chile, the host country for Pan Ams, was granted automatic qualifications for its men’s and women’s teams.


Team USA is sending both men and women to compete in Chile in late October and early November. Before arriving in South America, part of the United Eagles preparation is hosting two FIH-sanctioned international series in North Carolina.


The friendly competition comes after a tough finish to the 2022-23 FIH Pro League. The final scores for the USA women may look oppressive, but they have made incremental steps of improvement. If there’s any takeaway from the final leg of the fourth season of the Pro-League, it’s that the USA is still cultivating a young team. 


Here’s what USA Women’s National Field Hockey head coach David Passmore had to say about the United Eagles and their most recent European tour.  


June 17: USA, 0; Netherlands, 6

June 18: USA, 2; Great Britain, 4

June 20: USA, 2; Netherlands, 3

June 21: USA, 1; Great Britain, 2

June 30: USA, 0; Germany, 6

July 2: USA, 0; Belgium, 4

July 3: USA, 2; Germany, 5

July 5: USA, 0; Belgium, 1


Now that the Pro-League has come to an end, and the second leg was more challenging for the USA women, what are your thoughts about what’s to come for the remainder of the year? 

“Despite a disappointing end to the [FIH Hockey] Pro League we know, and the statistics would support, we have made significant progress from last year. The standard and ranking of the opposition was higher in this tour and with the European Cup being in August, these teams were better prepared and further on in their readiness for their first Olympic qualifying tournaments.”


What were the pros and cons of the second leg of the 2023 Pro-League tour? 

“There were a number of positive aspects to this tour as we managed to play against seven different teams, four in friendly matches against Ireland and the strong Belgium U-21 teams. However, playing across three venues in a month is challenging and we did not start the final leg in Antwerp like we would of hoped. We managed to use 23 of our squad of 24 and our understanding of our own style of play and tactical components of the world game is improving as a result of the [FIH Hockey] Pro league and other matches we fitted in while in Europe.”


What areas are “needs improvement”? And, what areas did you “see improvement”? 

“There were a number of positive aspects to this tour and we certainly have improved our physical readiness to play at this level but will be working now on our speed and acceleration in game. What was also significant and testament to our strength and conditioning staff and the athletes is that our physical outputs in our eighth and final match were the best on record for some years. 

We started with some good wins over Ireland and then found ourselves 2-0 up in our second match against world and Olympic champions Holland and were just over 2 minutes away from getting a result against a strong Great Britain team playing at home. That said, our inability to manage games and start games strongly is a key area for development. We also failed to start the second mini tournament in Antwerp like we had finished the last one in London so need to reflect on why that was.”  


What happens when Team USA plays the Dutch? 

“…we started these game confidently and played some really good attacking periods despite the loss in the first match. We took our chances in the second match and my point at half time was that we had started well scored, then dropped off and given too much respect to the opposition, we started the second half positively and scored again but the Dutch are a quality team, stuck to their process and eventually their pressure told. The more you play these teams the less you fear them and we must not forget that we conceded ten goals in one match against them last year.” 


What should fans know about our current USA women’s senior team? 

“We have had a 3-week break and return with the whole centralized squad of 24 together in Charlotte this week in preparation for the Pan American Games in October. Only the winners of this tournament qualify for Paris 2024 [Olympic Games] so if we fail there we will hopefully qualify for the Olympic Qualifier in January where eight teams compete for three places at each (in either China or Spain). Our aim is to qualify for Paris and while we know that won’t be easy, we feel the learning from [FIH Hockey] Pro League will stand us in good stead to progress forward. We play five matches against Canada and five against South Africa in preparation for the Pan American games which will give us further time to refine our playing style and improve our set pieces. We move into our new home provided for us by the USPC at the University of North Carolina Charlotte in September and this field will be the same used in Paris.”

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