U-21 USMNT Wins Tight JPAC Match Against Brazil

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SURREY, BC, Canada – It came down to the final seconds of the match today when the No. 25 U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team clashed with No. 31 Brazil at the 2024 Junior Pan American Championships (JPAC) in Surrey, Canada. The Junior Wolves picked up a crucial 3-2 win over Brazil.

It was just 30 seconds in that USA conceded the first penalty corner of the match to Brazil, but a mishandle at the top led to a quick transition down the field for the red, white, and blue. Now on the attack, the Junior Wolves capitalized at the two-minute mark as Sekayi Charasika (Louisville, Ky.) nailed the backboard with a powerful lifted shot. Soon after, Charasika was in the backfield, dribbling out of traffic. Halfway through the quarter, Wyatt Katz (Santa Rosa Valley, Calif.) ripped a high shot, forcing Brazil’s goalkeeper to make a big save.

Without much continuity in possession, USA’s defense and midfield had to work overtime, as Leo Zarnekow (Saint Petersburg, Fla.) displayed some strong defensive efforts and Rory Bleeker (Liden, Netherlands) worked the right sideline. Unable to slow down a Brazil attacker streaking into the circle, USA conceded their second penalty corner of the quarter, which Brazil converted on to tie the match at 1-1. After a brief spurt on attack, USA was back setting up their defense for another Brazil penalty corner, which had no result. USA’s Noah Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) made a run up the sideline with less than a minute remaining, but Brazil stunted the effort. The score would stand tied at 1-1 after the first quarter.

The energy continued into the second frame, as USA attempted to work their passing up but were unable to make connections. That was until the 19-minute mark, when the Junior Wolves secured their own set piece chance. The drag flick from Namit Mangat (Glendale, Ariz.) was saved by Brazil’s goalkeeper, as the ball sailed over the cage. It was a quick transition for Brazil, finding a penalty corner at 22 minutes, with a shot sent wide. On another chance for USA shortly after, Charasika sent a drag flick into the cage, putting USA up 2-1 with four minutes left in the frame.

As play continued, Lasse Nobereit (Koengstein, Germany) was a solid force in the backfield, bringing down aerials and sending it back up to the USA midfield. The score would stay 2-1 heading into halftime.

Shortly after the third quarter whistle sounded, the Junior Wolves found themselves on defense, looking for the outlet. The ball found its way out and was almost to the sticks of Brazil’s midfield when Katz displayed solid effort to get a touch and retain possession for USA. A minute later, Katz sent a shot just wide. A few minutes of offensive bursts for USA were disrupted by a Brazil, pressing high and causing USA turnovers. With 5 minutes to play in the quarter, Brazil won a penalty corner that was challenged by USA, but the original decision stood. Despite escaping the penalty unharmed, USA needed to organize their connections up the field to contend with a tough Brazil defense.

As the final minute of the third quarter ticked down, Brazil earned a penalty corner, which was sent wide. Zarnekow sent a long flick up the field, but USA was unable to capitalize, taking their 2-1 lead into the final frame.

The Junior Wolves would have 15 minutes to protect their lead. 4 minutes in, Brazil destroyed that game plan, tallying off a reverse shot and tying up the match, 2-2. Up the right again, Bleeker finally won the penalty corner he’d been looking for all game with 9 minutes remaining, but USA’s chance was without result. A steady USA defensive line consisting of Nobereit, Zarnekow, and Corey Dykema (Newport News, Va.) helped to escape some dangerous Brazil attempts. A critical penalty corner chance for USA with 4 minutes left was tipped wide by Brazil’s defense.

A little over a minute left, Zarnekow shut down a breakaway, as USA fought hard to get back up the field. With 7 seconds left to play, the game was stopped due to an injury. With an essential match on the line for the red, white, and blue, Mehtab Grewal (Somis, Calif.) slammed in a goal with just seconds remaining, giving USA a 3-2 lead, and 3-2 victory.

The Junior Wolves will play No. 44 Mexico in their next match on Sunday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

For more information regarding the 2024 Junior Pan American Championships, visit the event page.


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