USMNT Dominates with Nine-Goal Win Over Mexico in FIH Series Finals

Images Courtesy of Hockey India

June 08, 2019, 10:03 a.m. (ET)

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BHUBANESWAR, India - June 8, 2019 - The No. 25 U.S. Men’s National Team met a familiar foe in their second game of the FIH Series Finals as they faced No. 39 Mexico at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India. After tying in the FIH Hockey Series Open one year ago, USA came out well prepared against their Pan American region rival in an offensive-dominant performance as seven different players tallied goals in a 9-0 victory.

“Last time we played them it was a very, very close result,” said Sean Cicchi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), after the match. “We just wanted to come out and give a really good effort and show them what we can really do.”

Mexico took first possession and swiftly moved inside USA’s 25-yard line, but a well anticipated USA defense took the ball away to help set the tempo of the match. USA quickly got to work on offense, with multiple threats by Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas) and Sean Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) before setting up for the team's first penalty corner of the match at the 4 minute mark. Mexico goalkeeper Jose Hernandez successfully defended the attempt before Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) followed up on USA’s next possession finishing on the reverse from a cross by Montilla for the game’s first goal. Mexico responded with their first circle penetration but was well defended by Tom Barratt (Greensboro, N.C.). USA continued to consistently apply pressure on Mexico’s defensive unit as the opening quarter unfolded. Their patience paid off in the 14th minute when they extended the lead after Paul Singh (Simi Valley, Calif.) sent a backhand shot toward goal that was redirected by Julian Croonenberghs (Tervuren, Belgium) past Hernandez.

USA kept up momentum as the second quarter got underway with scoring chances by Patrick Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) and Paul Singh (Simi Valley, Calif.) before USA lined up for another penalty corner in the 20th minute. Back-to-back strikes by Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) were saved by Hernandez but clears by Mexico were inconsistent as USA was able to chase down and intercept. With time running low in the half USA set up a flurry of shots in the final moments, including shots by Deegan Huisman (Almere, The Netherlands) and P. Harris. The attempts would pay off when Huisman chased down the ball and passed to Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.) in the goalmouth, beating the halftime buzzer and goalkeeper Hernandez to give the red, white and blue a 3-0 lead.

Picking up where they left off as the third quarter began, USA continued to find opportunities inside the circle. They were at a disadvantage when P. Harris was given a green card in the 35th minute, but still found chances in those two minutes. As the card expired, USA set up for a penalty corner, which was inserted by P. Harris, and finished on a drag by Cicchi to extend USA’s score line. Montilla then register his first goal for USA two minutes later on a redirected cross by Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Calif.). Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) was next on the scoring sheet after hitting one inside the pads of Hernandez for his second goal of the FIH Series Finals in the 42nd minute. Mexico found a path near the circle just as the quarter concluded but was stopped by Barratt.

Still in a half-field press, Mexico was kept on their back foot as USA patiently weaved passes around the perimeter, but nearly got on the scoreboard on a fast-developing 3-on-3 play. Jorge Gomez passed over to Erik Hernandez for a quick strike but the play was broken up by P. Harris. Back the other way, a drag flick by Cicchi on a penalty corner found the bottom left corner of the goal in the 52nd minute, which was followed up one minute later by Barminski to make it 8-0. Still challenging Mexico’s defense Huisman had a pair of chances inside the circle before being taken down on a pass attempt to Sundeen. The ensuing penalty stroke was taken by Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) who buried it into the roof of the goal for USA’s ninth goal of the evening.

"We are happy that we scored nine goals and kept a clean sheet today," said Rutger Wiese, USMNT Head Coach. "We will review the video and make improvements where needed for the next game.” 

Following the game, Cicchi was named Man of the Match. Tonight’s match also marked the 100th international cap for Sundeen.

"We’re happy for him and great he was able to celebrate this special cap with a goal," added Wiese.

The U.S. Men’s National Team will have a break in the schedule before returning to the pitch for their third pool play game on Monday, June 10, local time against No. 18 Japan to determine the top seed in Pool B. Game time is set for Sunday, June 9 at 11:15 p.m. ET and can be viewed on Bleacher Report Live. For more information on the FIH Series Finals, check out the official event page by clicking here.