The weeklong series involving both the senior and junior men’s national teams began today in Moorpark, California as the Juniors took on the Under-20 men from Argentina while the Seniors faced the men from Queensland Hockey Club.
In the first match of the day, the Juniors played the Argentina juniors tough but found themselves on the losing side of a 2-1 result. At the start of the match the USA side was playing fast and furious and surprised the Argentineans with the speed of their play, appearing to be on the verge of creating some good chances. But a couple of mistakes deep in the USA end gave the visitors an opening and they scored in the 6th minute off a slow-rolling shot to the near post.
Visibly deflated, the USA side played back on their heels for a few minutes before once again increasing the tempo of play. However, the good scoring chances all appeared to be going to Argentina and at the half the score remained 1-0.
Early in the second half one of the Argentine strikers entered the USA circle and fired a hopeful shot, which deflected past goalie Spencer Reed (Ventura, CA) and gave Argentina a 2-0 lead. But USA regrouped and began winning turnovers in the mid-field. A turnover in the 47th minute, exploited by Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, CA) and Liam Walsh (Rockport, WA), got the ball to Paul Singh (Simi Valley, CA) in the circle who turned and fired a sharp backhanded shot to the far-post board to put the score at USA 1, Argentina 2. The squads battled back and forth and each squandered several short corner chances, but in the end the score remained the same. A bright spot was the second half play of USA goalie Spenser Reed, the man of the match.
Following a tense Junior game, the Senior Men took the pitch against the Queensland Hockey Club. The Australians immediately came out with a high-pressure style that caught the Americans off-guard. Though Jarred Martin (Albany, NY) was able to secure the early 1-0 lead for Team USA with a goal in the 5th minute, the lead felt shaky as Queensland ‘s physicality disrupted the Americans’ flow and caused some costly midfield turnovers early on in the half. The 12th minute would see Queensland equalize the score at one with a circle penetration from the baseline that lead to a goal by Joseph Reardon. The US would answer in the 18th minute as Martin would score again off a rebound from an Andy Sheridan (New York, NY) shot but Queensland would finish the half ahead with goals in the 20th and 31st minutes to give themselves a 3-2 advantage at the half.
“They played really physically in the first half and that disrupted our team a little bit,” Andy Sheridan noted afterwards. “All three of their goals came through penetrating the D via the baseline so we did our best to not only cut that off but to play physically ourselves in the second half.”
The second half began with the US looking to immediately seize control of the game’s momentum. Taking advantage of a green card given to a Queensland defender, Pat Harris (Moorpark, CA) took a quick restart and found a waiting Jarred Martin in the middle of the offensive circle who completed his hat trick for the day to even the score at 3 apiece. Though no further goals were scored in the match, it was evident that the second half belonged to the USA men as the controlled the tempo and the battle of possession.
Day Two of the series kicks off tomorrow at 10:30am as the Junior USA men meet Argentina once again with the USA Senior men following up against Queensland at 12:30pm. Keep checking back from match reports and go USA!