The USA Men's U21 Team came away with a well deserved 2-1 victory against a select representative team from Moorpark yesterday at the Ventura County High Performance Training Center.
The Moorpark team lived up to their name as the select few arrived for a scheduled game time of 6PM. A delayed start due to a late GK withdrawal forced the locals to play with a kicking back for the first ten minutes of the match. The USA Team were unable to capitalize.
At the 10 minute mark the USA Junior's earned their first penalty corner. A further short delay later (to allow the replacement GK opportunity to finish padding up) and the Select Team were, at last a Select XI.
The Moorpark Team, consisted of five experienced Senior International players in Pat Cota, Rinku Bhamber, Shawn Nakamura, Binh Hoang and Ian Scally combined with some experienced local players whose best playing days are arguably well behind them.
Short of a bench (and fitness) the Moorpark Team offered little in the way of front field pressure preferring to capitalize on skill errors from their younger opponents.
Unfortunately, in the early going the skills of the U21 athletes were lacking and poor turnovers prevailed in outlet situations albeit without consequence.
A somewhat lethargic first half ended scoreless with the best chance falling to the USA Team after a penalty corner rebound sequence.
The second half started with a sharp counter-attack opportunity smartly finished by Manny Martinez and provided cleverly be Will Holt in the 37th minute. The scorer creating the initial turnover through a well executed mobile press.
The next 20 minutes were largely dominated by the U21 Team although a pattern of poor finishing decisions failed to put the game out of reach.
As often happens after opportunities are squandered in the front end, the equalizing goal came soon thereafter. Rinku Bhamber making no mistake drilling a rebound opportunity in the 57th minute after poor defensive organization had opened up the USA left side defense.
A period of 5 minutes followed where the Moorpark side dominated play and could have, and perhaps should have taken the lead. Andrew Zayac saving well from both Moorpark penalty corner attempts.
Surviving this period of play, the USA Team went on to win the game with a well executed backhand strike from Jed Cunningham in the 65th minute. The goal shot coming from regained possession after a broken attacking penalty corner.
The only other opportunity of the match went squandered at the far post for the USA Team. Having won 6 penalty corners to 2 and created significantly more opportunity in the front end the USA Team comfortably saw out the time to win the first game (of three) in the series.