The U.S. Men's Masters Over-50 Team started the European Masters Open in Lisnagarvey, Northern Ireland, with a hard fought, 2-2, draw against hockey powerhouse the Netherlands. The U.S. warmed up for the tournament with three days of practices and a match against Scotland which resulted in a 0-0 draw.
The U.S. had to defend for much of the first half against the Netherlands. The Netherlands scored first when they picked off a clearing pass and knocked one in goal. The U.S. regrouped and mounted some counter attacks. The U.S. won three penalty corners but were unable to convert. In the 25th minute, a searching ball into the circle from Andrew Dunning was superbly deflected into the roof of the net by a diving Brian Spencer. Soon after, Simon Gray deflected a pass from Don Warner just over the crossbar.
The second half continued in similar fashion, with the U.S. working very hard in a half court zone to deny the Netherlands circle penetrations. However, a well-worked penalty corner variation put the Netherlands back in the lead with 18 minutes remaining in the match.
The U.S. continued to work hard and started to generate some concerted pressure. The U.S. won three penalty corners in the final ten minutes. One was cleared off the line by a post player, but the third was nailed home by Richard Hayden in the 67th minute, giving the U.S. a well-deserved, 2-2, draw.
The match saw first U.S. Master's appearances by Don Warner, Steve Penny, Richard Hayden and John Hoven, who all worked hard in the midfield, and Neville Gardner and Curtis Sherk, who both played solid defense. Returning from last year's Canterbury International Hockey Federation's Masters World Cup were forwards Simon Gray and Brian Spencer, midfielders Andrew Dunning, Dieter Hillert and Ian Wagge and defenders Phil Danaher, Amjad Zia and Peter Jones. The goalkeeper is Warren Prestwich. Mike Coleman unfortunately dislocated his shoulder in the warm-up match and the team is hoping he will be able to return to action soon. Todd Koch is the manager and Peter Jones doubles up as a player and a coach.
The team greatly appreciates the support of the U.S. Men's Field Hockey Foundation and USA Field Hockey. The next match is against Wales on Wednesday, August 14.