An intense and boisterous atmosphere awaited the men today as they took on Mexico in front of their home crowd. In a sign of how the game was going to be exciting, Team USA scored on their first possession and the fight was on. The two teams traded goals for the first 23 minutes, with Team USA always with the lead and Team Mexico right at their heels.
At 6:52 Alden Mezick saved a set shot and Jordan Fithian quickly rebounded and connected on a long pass to Ty Reed for a USA goal, keeping the USA in front well into the second half. Stellar goal keeping by Alden Mezick, who came up with big save after big save, kept the USA ahead. Mezick stunned the Mexicans at 10:35 and 11:30 with shockingly impressive saves.
In the final 7 minutes of the first half, the USA defense would limit Mexico to only 1 goal and stretch their lead to 4. With a 7-meter save and several fast break stops, goalie Alden Mezick played a major role in keeping Mexico off the scoreboard, with the USA finishing the half up 13 - 9.
Mexico opened the second half with a goal (14-10). USA fired back with ball movement and a goal by Ty Reed (15-10). Sean Zimber scored (16-10), but Mexico scored 3 straight goals. Right back Zimber crashed to pivot, and Sam Hoddersen fired a quick pass to Zimber for a goal and a USA 17-14 lead.
As a relentless Mexico fought back to close the gap to 17-16, USA goalie Alden Mezick once again made back to back stops to break Mexico’s momentum. Mezick connected down the court to Sam Hodderson who completed the fast break and extended the USA lead to 18-16.
The game then became a seesaw affair when Mexico would score, the USA would come right back with another goal to keep their lead. Unfortunately, no lead is big enough when you are playing the home team. Still, USA maintained a consistent scoring pace and the teams were back to trading goals. At 20:18, two costly turnovers allowed Mexico to tie it up 23 - 23, but the USA’s Hartland Jones answered right back with a goal from the right wing. Sam Hoddersen, followed up with a goal of his own to reestablish the 2-goal lead, but Mexico wasn’t about to quit and fought its way back to 26 - 26.
The final minutes were high pressure and an untimely 2-minute penalty proved costly at 27:55. But Alden Mezick responded immediately with another huge save and Sean Zimber scored on the next play. Running out of time, Mexico gambled on a full court press, and came up big. Despite giving up a breakthrough goal to Chris Morgan, Mexico was able to force 2 turnovers and score 3 goals in the final 75 seconds, to secure a tie at the buzzer.
The senior men were seconds away from securing their second win and a strong position for qualifying for the Pan Am Championships, will instead enter the rest day with a 1 - 1 - 1 record. With Canada and Mexico ending in a draw yesterday at 26-26, the USA is still in contention for the silver medal. They will be back on the court on Saturday, April 7th, 2018 at 2:00 PM Central against Puerto Rico. And will finish out the tournament on Sunday, April 8th at 12:00 noon Central against Canada.