U.S. Over-45 Men tie Wales 1-1 at Masters World Cup
After improving steadily in every game, the U.S. made significant progress by tieing Wales in the first game of its 7th – 9th place classification playoff.
Wales started strongly and put a lot of pressure on the U.S. defense, which was well directed by goalkeeper Steve Wagner and sweeper Peter Jones. The U.S. weathered the storm until the 16th minute when a flowing counterattack by Wales gave Wagner little chance.
The U.S. regrouped and the defenders, Warren Prestwich, Phil Danaher and Ian Wagge took control of their man-to-man match ups. The midfield, led by Morgan Stebbins and Andrew Dunning in the center, with support on the the wings from Srinu Karuturi and Jon Drucker started shutting down the Welsh attacks and began combining well. Jeremy Roberts rotated-in at four different midfield and defense positions and used his speed to good effect to pull off some key interceptions. The forwards had to cover a lot of ground and Brian Spencer, Simon Gray, Dieter Hillert, Muzammal Malik and Buta Johal worked hard when they were on. The score remained 1-0 to Wales at half time, but the U.S. players felt confident that they were very much in the game.
In the 47th minute, a great series of passes saw the ball move through the midfield to Morgan, who found Buta just outside the right side of the circle. Buta rolled a lovely pass to Malik, who calmly received and beat the goalkeeper to tie the game up. The rest of the half saw play at both ends, with Steve once coming out spectacularly to dispossess a Welsh striker at the top of the circle. The U.S. won several corners and the Welsh keeper made a series of saves to deny the USA.
The score of 1-1 meant that the USA had recorded its first ever tie in International Masters Competition and remains in contention for a possible seventh place finish with a win against Ireland in its final game.
The USA team is pleased to have received substantial support and assistance from Asics (for clothing), USA Field Hockey and the US Men’s Field Hockey Foundation. In addition, the team is delighted to have received financial support from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Based in NYC, HSS is the country’s leading orthopedic hospital. One of the players, Phil Danaher, is able to compete because of an innovative shoulder replacement surgery he had performed at HSS. Others on the team may well need treatment from HSS upon returning to the USA!