U.S. Men earn shutout victory over host Brazil
Four players contribute to Team USA's 5-0 victory
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – MARCH 2, 2013 – Fans braved the rain to see the U.S. take on Brazil this morning on the third day of competition at the International Hockey Federation’s World League Round 2 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Team USA struck four times in the first half en route to a 5-0 victory over the host nation. Four players were in the scoring column contributing to today’s shutout victory, including Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Cali.), Manny Martinez (San Diego, Cali.), Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Cali.) and Will Holt (Camarillo, Cali.).
“I think the first half was very clinical. We were at a forty percent strike rate which is fantastic and a good improvement from our previous matches,” said head coach Chris Clements. “I think we played well to conditions as the field was very slow and slippery due to the rain overnight. Although we only scored one goal in the second half, I think we controlled the match well and it was more about players getting to certain positions and personnel seeing more minutes in the game.”
Rain overnight and drizzles throughout the match made conditions on the field slippery and small puddles slowed the pace of the ball through the midfield. Despite the dreary weather and less than perfect playing conditions, Team USA came out confident and on attack, pressuring Brazil’s defense and challenging their goal. The early domination paid off with a goal by Sundeen in the ninth minute. The U.S. capitalized on another opportunity moments later with a field goal by Holt. Martinez shortly followed, recording a third goal for the U.S. and giving Team USA a comfortable 3-0 lead fifteen minutes into the first half.
A missed penalty corner opportunity held the U.S. at 3-0 until the final minute when Holt logged a second goal from a textbook pass by Mike Barminski (Ventura, Cali.).
The second half saw less scoring, but still a solid performance for Team USA who controlled the majority of the remaining thirty-five minutes. Gandhi added a fifth field goal for the U.S. in the 40th minute to close out the scoring and lock in the 5-0 victory.
Clements said the win today was very important, not only for Team USA’s record in the tournament but also for team morale. Kevin Barber (Camarillo, Cali.) said the team didn’t have a choice and a win today was a must.
“We had to win this game and we did,” said Barber. “Now we just need to stay focused and continue improving. We’ve played Trinidad and Tobago a bunch of times and they seem to be missing a couple of their key players here. Regardless, they are fast and talented so we are certainly not going to underestimate them.”
“I definitely think we have the ability to get another win tomorrow. By no means will it be easy and I think we still need to make sure we are not complacent. Today’s win is history and right now we need to focus and prepare for the next match,” Clements said.
Following the U.S. match, South Africa defeated Trinidad and Tobago with a final score of 9-2. The final match of the day is still to come and will be a battle between Argentina and Chile.
The U.S. will take on Trinidad and Tobago for their fourth match of the tournament tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. local time. Team USA will conclude the tournament against Argentina on Tuesday, March 5 at 11:00 a.m. The top two teams automatically advance to World League Round 3 and become one step closer to the 2014 World Cup.