USMNT Beats Mexico to Claim 5th at Pan American Games

July 25, 2015, 2:19 p.m. (ET)

TORONTO, Canada – July 25, 2015 – The U.S. Men’s National Team beat 34th FIH World Ranked Mexico 6-2 to claim 5th at the 2015 Pan American Games.

"We obviously highlighted finding that finishing touch throughout the week and finally it clicked," said U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Chris Clements. "The message we've been telling the guys all week is that you can create all of these chances, which is important but getting that final touch makes all the difference. Today was our best performance with the outcomes in the attacking circle."

Wasting no time to get on the scoreboard, the U.S Men’s National Team transitioned the ball into their offensive end and won a penalty corner at the two minute mark. Off the corner, Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) sent a direct drag flick on cage that hit the backboard giving USA an early 1-0 lead.

Team USA continued to accelerate through Mexico traffic to enter the attacking end as Pat Harris' (Moorpark, Calif.) backhanded attempt was saved by Mexico’s goalkeeper. After end line to end line play, Holt found the back of the cage again on a diving deflection from Christian Linney (San Diego, Calif.) to put USA 2-0.

"We moved the ball around a lot better today and had good spacing," said Holt. "We held Mexico in our half of the field and they were packing into our attack circle. So we moved the ball around really well and created several opportunities and took advantage of those."

In the 13th minute, Mexico earned their first penalty corner of the game. On the opportunity, Mexico found a USA foot to secure another corner. On the second chance, Mexico’s threatening drag flick from the top of the circle was blocked by USA’s goalkeeper Chris Rea (San Diego, Calif.).

At the start of the second quarter, the USMNT maneuvered play into their offensive end and earned a penalty corner. Netting an impressive third goal for Team USA, Holt found the top of the cage on a drag flick extending the score to USA 3, Mexico 0. Play continued to remain in Team USA’s offensive end as the backfield swung the ball with patience waiting to transition forward.

Mexico’s Edgar Garcia sprinted forward into the attack circle the 18th minute where he beat a USA’s defender in a 1v1 situation and lifted the ball beyond USA’s goalkeeper Rea’s reach to notch the goal, changing the score to USA 3, Mexico 1.

This score didn’t stand long, for in the 22nd minute, Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) fired a powerful backhanded shot from the top left of the circle through Mexico’s defenders resulting in a goal and giving USA a 4-1 lead.

Not letting down, Mexico sped into their attacking circle and earned a penalty corner in the 26th minute. Holding tight to the left post, Barminski collected the shot and outletted to Tom Barratt (Greensboro, N.C.) who transitioned the ball forward. Mexico regained possession and charged to the opposite end of the pitch but USA’s goalkeeper Rea withstood a flurry of rapid shots. Being persistent, Mexico’s Edgard Boruez connected with a solid drive that went into the lower lefthand corner of the goal to make the score USA 4, Mexico 2 at halftime.

Mexico tested USA’s defense early in the third quarter as they ran the baseline and sent a shot above the crossbar. The contest continued to be an evenly possessed match but in the 42nd minute, Team USA earned a penalty corner. Holt’s backhand attempt off the corner was denied by Mexico’s goalkeeper.

Determined to extend the scoring margin, a great individual effort by Harris in the attacking circle resulted in a hard strike in the goal making the score USA 5, Mexico 2.

In the fourth quarter at the 48th minute, Alex Cunningham (Bad Kreuznach, Ger.) drove into the attacking circle and drew a Team USA penalty corner. Holt’s sharp initial shot was turned away by Mexico’s goalkeeper. A minute later, Cunningham received a yellow card but Team USA’s efforts continued as a hard cross was sent past the goalmouth going untouched by a USA player.

Continuing forward attack, Mexico was awarded a penalty corner in the 49th minute. USA’s goalkeeper Rea dove to the left denying the shot on target. Grabbing the rebound and transitioning it up the field, Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.) dodged a Mexico defender with a spin to blast a ball into the back of the cage making it USA 6, Mexico 2.

Ball possession stayed locked at the midfield as both teams fought to earn ball control late in the game. Team USA was able to defend any Mexico threats and secure the 6-2 win.

"Only a few members of the team have actually played in prior Pan American Games competition. So it was good to have those younger guys who are 20, 21 or 22 get this kind of experience under their belts," added Holt. "It strengthens our program as a whole."

"For the guys, this kind of win is a reward for their hard work and their willingness to try to execute the plan," said Clements. "This match leaves a strong stamp on the tournament for us. I'm incredibly proud to work with these guys on a day-to-day basis. We're grinding and giving our absolute best to make sure we make it to the top. It didn't happen at this particular tournament but that doesn't mean it was for a lack of trying or effort. Our vision and our hopes are very high. The team wants the most and best from each other and they're more than willing to give that a go. You haven't heard the last of us, that's for sure."

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