O'Donnell, Smith Puzo Named to Olympic Team
June 11, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Terrapin greats Katie O'Donnell and Keli Smith Puzo were named to the 16-member Olympic team and will head to London, announced Monday by U.S. head coach Lee Bodimeade.
Seven players make a return to the Olympic Games, including Smith Puzo, who graduated from Maryland in 2002. The U.S. will look to record their first Olympic medal since 1984, after finishing eighth at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
"One of the things that we have been able to achieve since Beijing is increasing the depth and ability of the entire squad," said Bodimeade. "To go from 25 athletes down to 16 was an extremely difficult task and one that had some really tough decisions that needed to be made. We had 16 rookies at the Olympics in 2008 and now to have seven athletes with that experience on the Olympic Team puts us in a much better position heading to London."
A total of 13 players were part of the U.S. Squad that booked the team's ticket to London last October by defeating Argentina in the finals of the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Smith Puzo returned to the National Team in December after giving birth to her second child on August 31. She competed in the Beijing in 2008. This will be O'Donnell's first appearance in the Olympic games.
"As a former Terp, Olympian and now assistant field hockey coach, I would like to congratulate Keli Smith Puzo and Katie O'Donnell for being selected to compete in the 2012 London Olympic games," Dina Rizzo said. "The University of Maryland is honored to have two Terp alums representing our county this summer in London. I can say from my experience that competing in the Olympics is a dream come true." Rizzo competed in Beijing in 2008.
The U.S. has been drawn into a challenging pool made up of No. 2 Argentina, No. 3 Germany, No. 6 New Zealand, No. 7 Australia and No. 12 South Africa. The U.S. will open Pool B play at the Olympic Games with a face-off against Germany on Sunday, July 29. From there, the U.S. will advance to their next opponents in the tournament - Argentina, then Australia, New Zealand and close the preliminary rounds with South Africa on Monday, August 6. The women's first semi-final will take place on Wednesday, August 8. The gold-medal round commences on Friday, August 10.
"We have a tough pool but we actually welcome that and the challenge it brings," said Bodimeade. "We are not going to the Olympics for the experience, we are going to win. That is our goal and that has been and is our approach to this Olympic Games. We are really looking forward to the challenge ahead of us at the biggest sporting event in the world."
The U.S. will begin their final preparation for the London Games on Monday, June 18, with the start of a four game test series against Argentina in Virginia. The 16-women nominated to the Olympic Team plus two replacement athletes will compete on the tour that stops at the University of Virginia, Old Dominion University and the National Training Center.
The final match on June 23 will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network. An Olympic celebration will follow at 6:30 p.m. ET, which will formally recognize and celebrate the U.S. Olympic Women's Field Hockey Team. Tickets are still available to the public and can be purchased on usafieldhockey.com.
The team will depart for London on July 21.
All nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee board of directors.
At the conclusion of last week's Women's National Championships in College Park, Terrapin sophomore was named to the U.S. Developmental Squad, which is the next step for her growth into the world's top level of hockey.
Witmer, along with Terrapins Maxine Fluharty, Katie Gerzabek, Natalie Hunter, and Ali McEvoy, are all members of the U.S. Under-21 team and will now begin training for the Junior Pan American games and the Junior World Cup later this year.