Nelson, USA team return home to face Canada

Old Bridge native Diana Nelson hopes to get another chance to make an international name for herself over the next two weeks.

Nelson, a member of the USA Field Hockey team, hopes to see plenty of action as the USA team continues its preparations for next year’s World Cup Qualifier when it takes on Canada in a six-game test series Aug. 28-Sept. 4 at the USA Field Hockey National Training Center in Virginia Beach.

Head coach Lee Bodimeade will get a good look at his squad in the team’s first international action since a fifth-place finish at the USA-hosted Rabobank Champions Challenge in July.

“I was happy with the team’s development, but I believe we also let ourselves down in a few areas that could have paid good dividends if we executed properly,” said Bodimeade on his team’s performance at the Champions Challenge. “The most encouraging thing to come out of the performance was how competitive we were with such a limited preparation.”

Members of the Champions Challenge team expected to compete in the Canada series include Kate Barber (West Chester, Pa.), Sarah Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Kelly Doton (Greenfield, Mass.), Kristi Gannon (Escondido, Calif.), Kristen Holmes-Winn (Princeton), Melissa Leonetti (Erdenheim, Pa.), Angie Loy (Loysville, Pa.), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.), Dina Rizzo (Walpole, Mass.), Sara Silvetti (Wapwallopen, Pa.), Tiffany Snow (Escondido, Calif.) and goalkeepers Amy Tran (Grantville, Pa.) and Barbara Weinberg (Louisville, Ky.).

“Playing at home was a tremendous boost,” added Bodimeade on the team’s return for a second straight international competition in Virginia Beach. “For 80 percent of our team, the Champions Challenge was their first high-profile tournament, and to play it in front of your home crowd is a real thrill. It was made more special by the way that people got in and supported their National Team. I know it really lifted the whole group throughout the tournament.”

The Virginia Beach series with Canada will also provide the first home international experience for Diane Nelson, who graduated from Northeastern University last year with 17 shutouts and a 1.08 goals-against average, good enough for First Team All-America honors.

“We still have our eyes firmly focused on the World Cup Qualifiers in Rome next year,” said Bodimeade. “We are trying to expose players to international competition and develop these players so that we have a very strong and wide base of players to chose from for that tournament.”

The series with Canada includes games on Aug. 28 (4 p.m.), 29 (7 p.m.) and 31 (7 p.m.) and Sept. 1 (7 p.m.), 3 (4 p.m.) and 4 (noon). All games are open to the public, and there is no charge for admission.