USA Men’s U17 v BC Men’s U16 – 1st August 2008
The USA U17 team hosted a British Columbia U16 team at Moorpark on Friday at 2.30pm. It was a good start to the series for the USA team with a comfortable 5-3 win at the Ventura County High Performance Training Centre.
The game started off fairly quickly with opportunities being created at both ends of the park. Despite the USA having more possession in the opening exchanges it was BC who had the better chances, and even hit a post in the opening minutes. USA won their first penalty corner in the 3rd minute but the straight shot was easily saved.
It was in the 8th minute that the deadlock was broken with BC counter-attacking the length of the field after a missed goal shot by USA and going from one end to the other to score, with a nicely taken strike from the centre forward.
USA had another Penalty Corner in the 10th minute which was saved, however it was in the 15th minute that USA equalized with Lucas Long scrambling in a goal shot after an untidy cross was delivered across the face of the goal.
USA started to dominate with Tyler Sundeen and Ja Ja Kentwell causing trouble with their aggressive closing and fast counter-attacks and passing. This ascendancy was turned on its head in the 25th minute when the over-enthusiastic attacking by USA saw the entire team in their opposition half, leaving two unmarked BC forwards who raced in from the half way line to have a 2 on 1 on Andrew Davis in goal, and giving him no chance.
USA showed great strength of character to equalize late in the half with a well worked short corner deflection at the far post by Ja Ja Kentwell.
The half time team-talk asked for greater aggression in the pressing and closing, and the promise that this would be converted to goal-scoring opportunities.
The USA aggressively pressed in the opening exchanges of the 2nd half and scored a fantastic goal from a turnover in the 39th minute to take the lead for the first time. Viren Padhiar converting an excellent reverse stick shot into the far bottom corner from the top of the circle.
BC pushed back with some of their fast and direct forwards causing some trouble to USA when they turned over. However, despite the barrage of short corners in the 40th minute, USA held firm with Mo Gandhi and Paulie Singh and Andrew Davis in goal defending with aplomb.
The clear highlight of the game was in the 41st minute when Tyler Sundeen picked up a ball in the 25 and galloped down the left hand side line from Left Half. Following a great “give and go” and an incisive drive into the left hand side of the opposition circle, he delivered a pin-point pass for Jivraj Hundal to deflect at the far post. A wonderful period of play and a great goal. This gave the USA a comforting 4-2 lead.
USA continued to rotate its players in the 2nd half, with all 16 players playing their part. Penalty corners were exchanged throughout the half, but it was the USA who scored again in the 54th minute from a rebound by Travis Kemsley following a saved straight flick.
The tiring full press the USA team had imposed for the entire game started to take its toll late in the second half as BC started to get back into the game through territory, turnovers and possession. BC earned 3 penalty corners in the last 10 minutes, converting the first of these with a straight flick in the 60th minute to make the score 5-3.
The game wound down with USA holding out the persistent BC attacks to end the game fairly comfortable 5-3 winners. Tyler Sundeen was awarded the man-of-the-match award for his untiring efforts and work ethic and his contribution to the highlight goal of the game. The Penalty Corner count was 7-6 in favor of BC, which would suggest the game was closer than the score line made out.
The USA will take pleasure from the result, but have plenty to work on in the remaining games in the 3 match series.