Hosts South Africa Tops Indoor USMNT at Nkosi Cup
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The No. 8 U.S. Men's National Indoor Team faced No. 7 South Africa in their second game of the 2023 Nkosi Cup, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa. A high scoring contest saw the Wolves and hosts trade goals before South Africa stretched the margin for the 5-11 win.
"A tough result for the group today but we are happy with parts of that performance," said Jason Mulder, Indoor USMNT Head Coach. " In the first and third quarters we stayed competitive but we allowed South Africa to pull away in fourth with four goals. Credit to South Africa as their performance was special tonight - they are a tough group to breakdown, but these experiences make us better. Our focus remains on our process of exposing new players to this level of hockey. I’m already impressed by the younger group’s ability to adjust and perform quickly at this level."
With a combined 16 goals, there were a lot of tallies throughout the game. South Africa opened the svoring in the 4th minute when Mustaphaa Cassiem notched a field goal. A minute later they made it 0-2, when Steven Paulo converted a penalty stroke. In the 6th minute, Lasse Nobereit (Koenigstein, Germany) intercepted it at the halfway line, passed ahead to Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) who found the perfect lane to thread it through to Alex Grassi (Brookeville, Md.) for the diving goal. Harris followed up with a shot and Aki Kaeppeler (New York City,. Pa.) won USA a penalty corner - but to no avail. The first quarter closed 1-2.
Two minutes into the second frame, both sides shared goals. First USA equalized when Harris picked it off, used indiviudal skill, got it right to Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) who set Koehl Comiskey (Dallas, Pa.) up for the easy tap in. South Africa responded seconds later when a cross court ball got back-side to Ryan Julius for the finish. With a two minutes to go, the Wolves used a great passing sequence to earn a set piece, that Harris shot off the cross bar. On the resuming play, South Africa extended their lead to 2-4 on a goal from Dal Langford just before the break.
Similar to how the previous quarter started, the teams shared goals 2 minutes in. First South Africa capitalized on a penalty corner and USA responded with a set piece goal from Kaeppeler. This made the score 3-5. In the 28th minute, the Wolves came within one on another penalty corner goal from Kaeppeler. With 1 minute to go in the third, Langford made it 4-6.
Almost rewriting the start of the previous quarters, the final frame opened with back-to-back goals. First South Africa's Cassiem tallied off a penalty corner and next, a long ball from Kaeppeler got to Comiskey who used great individual skill but was met by South Africa's goalkeeper. Fortunately, Nobereit was quick on the rebound to make it 5-7. The remainded of the match saw the hosts add on another four field goals to bring the final to 5-11.
USA Umpire Allie Mikelson was also assigned to this match.
The Indoor USMNT will take Namibia again tomorrow at 12:45 p.m. ET.
For more information on the 2023 Nkosi Cup, visit the event page.