USA Field Hockey
Midweek Matches for Junior men
While the seniors rested and returned to their day-jobs, the Junior men spent the middle of the week continuing to battle on the pitch as they played games against both the Queensland Academy for Sport Development and the U20 Argentinean Men.
On Tuesday evening, the USA Juniors took on a Queensland squad that has spent their time in Moorpark playing a fast-paced and physical game. Their constant pressure on the Americans caused a flurry of turnovers but though they kept a majority of the possession in the half were unable to score more than one goal. With a late push of their own, the USA juniors counter attacked and found an open Pedro Zepeda to even the score and take a 1-1 tie into the break.
At the start of the second half the play of the Americans actually seemed to stiffen over what had already been a rather resolute response. But, the USA circle entries and attacking passes fell far short of the Australian effort, and eventually the numbers fell into place, leaving the final score at 3-1 in favor of the Queensland Squad. Queensland controlled the major statistics in the match in all offensive categories including shots on goal, circle penetrations, and penalty corners, where they had 12 to 2 for the United States.
Following their spirited and physical match with Queensland on Tuesday, the USA Junior Men took on the U20’s from Argentina on Wednesday evening. Though Team USA scored three goals that could have been enough Argentina was given twelve penalty corners and a penalty stroke that proved to be the difference in the match. On two of the penalty corners USA defenders left early and on both of the subsequent under-manned resets they were punished by Argentina goals. The final score was 5-3.
The match began with both sides taking turns on the offensive attack and with five minutes gone in the match USA was awarded a penalty corner where Ajai Dhadwal, the USA captain, scored on a well aimed shot to give the Americans the lead. It took Argentina eight minutes to win their next short corner which they converted after a USA defender was sent to mid-field for an early entry. Both teams worked hard in the remainder of the first half and Argentina would have been rewarded just before the buzzer except Brandon Karess, the USA goalie, made an outstanding save and was then assisted by Mo Gandhi who swept the second shot off the goal-line and out of bounds.
The second half began with the score tied at one goal apiece and both sides struggling to gain an advantage as play flowed back and forth. Fourteen minutes into the second half the Argentinean side was gifted a golden opportunity in the form of a penalty stroke which they quickly converted. Five minutes later Argentina scored again on a field goal to take a strong 3-1 lead. But USA never waivered and moments later Tyler Sundeen scored on a well executed penalty corner to bring the score within a goal for the United States. With ten minutes left in the match Argentina finally received a yellow card for playing after the whistle and USA looked to be pressing with the advantage but a quick Argentina counter-attack led to a penalty corner. Once again USA left early and on the short-handed reset they paid the price by giving up another goal and falling behind by a 4-2 margin. With four minutes to go in the match, Johnny Orozco began working the long corner which lead to a circle penetration and found Christian Linney on the far post who slammed the ball into the roof of the net to bring the score back within one goal once again. USA continued to press forward but Argentina made the final mark on a counter attack with 22 seconds remaining against a short-handed and confused USA defense to secure the 5-3 victory.
The Junior and Senior National Teams resume play this weekend for two more matches apiece. Keep checking for updates and GO USA!