USA Indoor Teams head into final Pan Am Cup pool play with eagerness
The USA Men's and Women's National Indoor Teams presented strong play yesterday in their second match of 2014 Pan American Cup in Uruguay. The squads will continue to keep that tempo heading into their final round of tournament pool play today.
Yesterday, the U.S. Men’s Squad continued their momentum from Monday’s victory over Uruguay by taking on Guyana in another fast-paced match.
“Guyana played a fast tempo, forward moving tactic against Team USA today,” said Head Coach Andrew Thornton. “Although Guyana was physical and calculated in their attack, we kept composure on the ball and responded well to the faster pace game.”
Scoring early in last night’s game kept Guyana on their heels for the rest of the first half. In the second minute, Moritz Runzi (Boston, Mass.) finished a penalty corner with a strong flick past a rushing goal keeper. Only seven minutes later, Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) was able to place a quality shot from the top of the circle past a frantic Guyana defense. A back and forth half saw Guyana capitalize on a penalty corner to earn their first goal of the match in the 14th minute. Team USA netted two more goals from Runzi and Rob Schilling (Long Beach, Calif.) to finish the half at 4-1 with USA in the driver’s seat.
Both teams came out strong in the second half. Runzi proved to be too much for the Guyana defense and was able to bury two more skillful field goals with another great finish by Sebastian Scheurer (Greenwich, Conn.) to close out the game 7-4.
“We are back to work in our preparation for tomorrow night’s game,” said Thornton. “Learning from our mistakes and building on our strengths is our main focus going into a pivotal match tomorrow night against a rested Argentine squad.”
The men will take on Argentina tonight at 8:45 p.m. local time (7:45 p.m. EST) in their last match of pool play.
Yesterday the U.S. Women's Squad competed against Canada, which was the seventh meeting for the teams in the past year. The squads competed in two test series, one in August in Feasterville, Pa. and the second in Toronto a few weeks ago. The renewed rivalry added a different flavor to this game. The U.S. Women went into the match knowing they have a 4-1-1 record against Canada for the past year and coming off a last minute 3-2 win over Uruguay. The Canadian women were riding the high of beating Argentina in their first match by a decisive score of 10-0. Confidence on both sides was high and you could see it in the athletes’ faces.
The match was intense from the first whistle. Canada brought high pressure but the U.S. Women were able to break the press and play was even for the first five minutes until Canada earned a penalty corner. The shot went low to the right corner of the cage and Rachael Milne (Hatfield, Pa.) made a stick save at the post nearly identical to the one she had in the Uruguay game the night before. A few minutes later Alex Hoover (Collegeville, Pa.) combined with Maeve Doherty (Millersville, Md.) to earn a few good chances for the U.S. team including a shot that went just wide, an attack corner and a shot neatly saved by the Canadian keeper.
In the 11th minute, Canada had a strong chance but the shot from the low left corner was saved by goalkeeper Maria Keesling (Downingtown, Pa.) who had another strong performance. Susan Ciufo (Bangor, Pa.) started a counter attack that led to more attacking chances by the U.S., but they were unable to convert. Canada gained an advantage a few minutes later when Milne drew a one minute green card penalty but strong defense from the Team USA produced attack opportunities while they were down numbers. Once even play resumed, both sides continued the high intensity play until the half ended in a scoreless tie.
In the second half the ladies had an up numbers chance of their own in the first few minutes as Canada was penalized with a green card for physical play. Again neither team was able to capitalize on the opportunity. In the 25th minute of play Milne made a strong tackle and somehow escaped between two Canadian players and found Ciufo up the left board. Ciufo passed across court to Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) who dodged the goalkeeper and took a shot but it was deflected into a defender’s foot for a penalty corner. On the penalty corner a quick option shot was turned away by a Canadian defender’s stick to keep the match scoreless. Matson nearly had a goal just a minute later but her shot went just wide of the cage.
The intensity of play increased in the next few minutes and U.S. defender Lauren Hibshman (Allentown, Pa.) escaped the Canadian defense to get in the attacking end to earn another corner. This time Doherty got the call and it looked like the U.S. was going to take the lead, but her shot went just over the crossbar. Canada countered a minute later with another corner of their own but the U.S. goalkeepers continued their strong play as Ashley Dalisera (Millersville, Md.) easily turned the shot away. Just a short time later, Ciufo made a strong reverse interception and countered with Matson but was unable to find her on the cross ball in the attack circle.
The Canada ladies found themselves with another up numbers opportunity in the 34th minute when U.S. co-captain Kim Tunell (Wilmington, Del.) was given a yellow card for a hard tackle. The U.S. defense showed its strength again and the ladies survived the penalty period. Matson showed off her ball handling skills as she spun in the left corner of the court and put a shot on goal, narrowly missing the cage. Both coaches called timeouts in the last five minutes of the match but neither team was able to get on the board and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
“Last night's match was a battle,” said Tunell after the game. “We played Canada several times during our preparation so we knew we had to be sharp. We came out with much more intensity than our first match, however we were unable to capitalize on our scoring opportunities. Overall we were satisfied with our performance and are looking forward to making the necessary adjustments to finish pool play on a high note.”
The ladies meet Argentina tonight at 7:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. EST) in their last match of pool play.
Cheer on Team USA at the 2014 Indoor Pan Am Cup and watch our athletes in action live!
Men's matches: http://www.panamhockey.org/en/
Women's matches: http://www.panamhockey.org/en/
Check out highlights from day two of the 2014 Pan American Cup!
Women’s highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1MUtqzmUvc&list=UU1ooFJyVO6Osi7WZWuCw2JA
Men’s highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QuVWyGVAq0&list=UU1ooFJyVO6Osi7WZWuCw2JA
*Photos courtesy of Quico Anderson and the Pan American Hockey Federation