BHUBANESWAR, India – As heavy rain saturated the pitch at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup, the U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team met Egypt in the 15th/16th place game. Trailing 0-2 heading into the final quarter, USA came from behind to tie the game within the final minute of regulation and defeat Egypt in a shootout to capture the victory.
"At halftime, we talked about trying to be mentally tough," said Pat Harris, U-21 USMNT Head Coach. "We had to stick to the game plan and keep believing in individual skill and each other."
In the opening 40 seconds, Egypt grabbed an early lead after Abdelrahman Elganayni scored off a penalty corner. Two minutes later, USA saw a close chance when a backhand by Mehtab Grewal (Somis, Calif.) was saved by Egypt goalkeeper Mahmoud Seleem. Although trailing, USA persisted on the attacking end and in the 10th minute grabbed a penalty. The initial drag by Finlay Quaile (Castle Cary, U.K.) was saved, both Damien Tarala (Norwalk, Conn.) and Jatin Sharma (South San Francisco, Calif.) had the follow-up chances before another penalty corner was called. On the second attempt, Seleen denied Quaile’s drag, and Sharma’s shot was blocked by a defender. This sparked positive control for USA, but they couldn’t break through Egypt’s defensive unit.
USA maintained possession at the start of the second frame but struggled to get connections in the circle. Egypt covered well, sat back in a half-field press and cut down any forward passing lanes. In the 22nd minute, USA earned back-to-back penalty corners but couldn’t find the equalizer. Off an open field play two minutes later, Egypt worked it down the left side and Elganayni tallied his second of the game to extend their lead. While USA had twice as many penalty corners and held possession for majority of the quarter they couldn’t find the reward of a goal.
During the halftime break, the weather from Cyclone Jawad came in drenching the pitch even more. USA continued to display great passing patterns up field but couldn’t produce an outcome in their attacking end as the quarter finished with the score line unchanged, 0-2.
USA knew they had to dig deep and find a result to get back into the game in the final quarter. In the 48th minute, they earned a penalty corner, but the shot went wide. Egypt immediately countered and got the ball right in front of Shomik Chakrabority (Washington, D.C.) who made a great save. A determined USA side kept attacking and finally got a goal in the 53rd minute when Tymen Kloen (Amsterdam, Netherlands) deflected Quaile’s drag off the penalty corner. The red, white and blue kept up the control and earned another penalty corner a minute later. The chance saw Grewal take the drag, Kloen follow up with a shot and Henzor Motta (San Juan, Puerto Rico) try from close range. USA kept battling and as time ticked down, Kloen found the equalizer on a backhand to make 2-2 and force a shootout.
The shootout, USA’s Kloen, Quaile and Sharma all converted for USA, while Egypt were unable to score any, to capture the victory for the red, white and blue.
At the conclusion of the game, Kloen earned Player of the Match for his two goals in regulation, as well as one in the shootout.
"This JWC helped us establish a standard that we want to get to," said Harris, on the invaluable experience this event has offered the U-21 USMNT. "We learned a lot over the past six games, and hopefully this is an initial step in a long-term goal of trying to compete with the best junior teams in the world."
For more information regarding the 2021 FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup, visit the event page.