RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – March 3, 2013 – The hot Brazilian sun was shining for day four of competition at the International Hockey Federation’s World League Round 2 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago played to a 1-1 draw through regulation, forcing a shoot-out competition to determine the winner. Trinidad and Tobago prevailed, 4-3, in sudden victory capturing their first win of the tournament.
Head coach Chris Clements said speed, strength and energy was something they identified as a strength for Trinidad and Tobago but fatigue and decision making under pressure and exhaustion was a determining factor today.
“(Speed, strength and energy) was exactly what we identified as one of their strengths and we were able to contain them in the first half but we eased off that pressure in the second half and failed to take chances,” said Clements. “We had three opportunities where we should have put the ball in the back of the net and the game would have been much different.”
After a slow start, the U.S. found a rhythm midway through the first half. Steve Mann (New York, N.Y.) forced a penalty corner in the 21st minute and Pat Harris (Moorpark, Cali.) capitalized with the successful execution of a drag flick. The U.S. had a second penalty corner opportunity shortly following, but a shot by Aki Kaeppeler (Ventura, Cali.) went wide. The U.S. ended the first half with a slender 1-0 lead.
Chris Rea (San Diego, Cali.) had an outstanding performance in the second half, stopping a barrage of shots and three penalty corners by Trinidad and Tobago. In the final minutes of play and on their fourth penalty corner, Trinidad capitalized, drawing the match 1-1.
“Chris had an unbelievable match,” Clements said. “To have a player in goal be that resilient is fantastic and a real strength for our team knowing a goalkeeper like that is behind them.”
The U.S. converted on three of their five shoot-out opportunities with Harris, Jon Ginolfi (Moopark, Cali.) and Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Cali.) recording a goal. Trinidad was also able to find the back of the net during their one-on-one opportunities with Rea and the match remained even after round one.
Round two moves into sudden victory and a missed shot by Harris allowed Trinidad to step up and finish the match with a win, 4-3, over the U.S.
Today’s shoot-out competition was the first the U.S. has encountered during a match or tournament.
“We need more exposure and time playing in tournaments to allow our players to experience the pressures in tight matches like we did today,” Clements said. “We need to learn coping strategies for sustaining pressure in crucial and critical matches within tournaments.”
Team USA’s final match of the tournament is against No. 10 Argentina on Tuesday, March 5. Argentina has had a solid World League Round 2 campaign, winning their first three matches easily with scores of 9-0, 10-0 and 6-0 against Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, and Chile, respectively. Following the U.S. match, Chile defeated Brazil 3-1 and the final match of the day will be battle between the two highest ranked teams in the tournament, Argentina and South Africa.
“We want to move on from our result today and focus on Argentina and see what we can bring to the table competing against them on Tuesday,” Clements said. “They are a traditional rival of ours and we want to be competitive against them and be successful in the Americas.”