AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - The U.S. U21 Junior Men’s Team arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday, August 11, bright and early after a long 12-hour flight for Los Angeles, Cali. The U21’s had two training sessions prior to their first match at the North Harbor Hockey club just outside of Auckland in the city of Albany.
The first match for the U21’s was against the North Harbor Select side, made up of a few National Hockey League players (NHL) and five of the New Zealand Junior National Team players. The U.S. came away victorious, 4-2.
“We started the game well and were faced with opponents who played a faster style of game, with elevated skills,” said Head Coach Chris Clements. “We managed to adjust relatively quickly through the first half and were able to take some well earned scoring opportunities. Of course we left some out there and will be working on improving this throughout the tour.”
The first half of the match was a good test for the U21’s; the North Harbor select side played with good intensity which the U21’s was able to match from the beginning. The U21’s were first to score at the 20 minute mark with a nice pass by Tyler Sundeen from the right side finding Christian Linney for a field goal. Linney’s goal was the only recorded in the first half, giving the U.S. the lead 1-0.
In the second half, North Harbor Select scored in the 41st minute off of a penalty corner, drawing the match at one apiece. In the 45th minute, the U21’s put tallied a second field goal by another nice play down the right side from Sundeen, to Rutger Pruijs finding Ranjot Sangha in the circle making the score 2 -1.
North Harbor Select equalized the match with a field goal at the 50 minute mark, 2-2. However, the U21’s weren’t finished and continued to apply pressure and force a number of turnovers.
In the 54th minute, Johnny Orozco passed a good ball to Pruijs who found JaJa Kentwell to make the score 3 – 2 USA. The U21’s forced a penalty corner in the 59th minute, which resulted in a rebound shot by Ranveer Kundi hitting a North Harbor Select defenseman off the body for a penalty stroke. Orozco scored the fourth goal for the U.S. U21’s making the score 4 -2 as time ran out.
To view schedule and results, visit the event page here. Follow the U.S. U21 Men's Team on tour in New Zealand on twitter, @USAFieldHockey or @Clements_CC.