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U-21 USMNT Finds Success in JPAC Contest Against Mexico

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SURREY, BC, Canada – For their fourth match of the 2024 Junior Pan American Championships (JPAC) in Surrey, Canada, the No. 25 U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team faced No. 44 Mexico. Conversions on penalty corners and penalty strokes propelled the Junior Wolves to a 6-0 victory.

"The team put in a disciplined performance and did well to get their second win of the tournament," said U-21 USMNT head coach Pat Harris. "This puts us in a good position to make the semifinals. We are focused on playing well in what will be a challenging match against pool leaders Argentina."

It was an energetic start to the match, especially for the red, white, and blue – getting a few good looks on cage early on. Wyatt Katz (Santa Rosa Valley, Calif.) sent a ball across to Sekayi Charasika (Louisville, Ky.), whose shot was just tipped out wide by the Mexico defense. At the one-minute mark, Rory Bleeker earned USA a corner, but the shot was tipped over the endline. After a few minutes of sustained USA attack, the play evened out slightly between the two teams, as Corey Dykema (Newport News, Va.) stepped up to shut down Mexico’s first trip into their attacking 25. Bennet Nobereit (Koenigstein, Germany) earned a second penalty corner chance for USA with 5 minutes left in the frame. The shot was blocked, but USA was back on the attack in no time, with Bleeker winning another set piece for USA. Despite some further chances, the Junior Wolves would have nothing to show for it, finishing the first quarter tied 0-0.

It was Mexico who won the first penalty corner of the second frame, but the ball was sent wide. USA increased the accuracy of their passing, with connections up the field between Charasika, Katz, and Mehtab Grewal (Somis, Calif.). At minute 25 the Junior Wolves won a penalty corner that finally tipped the scale in their favor. On the retake, Charasika sent in drag flick that put USA up 1-0.

Mexico earned a set piece chance with a minute and a half left, which was eventually cleared out by Lasse Nobereit. USA was able to turn the tides quickly with a penalty corner of their own. It was on a retake again that USA was able to finish, as Charasika doubled the lead to 2-0, a lead they kept as the first half concluded.

It was déjà vu for Mexico, as just over a minute into the second half, Charasika sunk his third drag flick on a penalty corner retake, giving USA a 3-0 lead. A minute later, at the 33 minute mark, USA was back in their attacking circle, this time earning a penalty stroke. It was the hero of yesterday’s match, Grewal, who took care of the ball and gave USA a 4-0 lead.

USA needed to keep up the pressure, and they did. Noah Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) took a powerful shot in the 36th minute that was saved by Mexico’s goalkeeper. With two minutes left in the quarter, Charasika tallied his fourth goal of the match, on yet another set piece. USA finished out the quarter leading 5-0.

Less than a minute into the fourth and the Junior Wolves were hungry for more, earning another penalty stroke. Grewal again put it away, this time to the bottom right, as USA gained a 6-0 lead. USA continued to work as a unit, making plays on defense and offense alike. Mendoza, alone on the right side of the circle, took a reverse shot the flew out to the left of the cage. The clock ticked down to 0 and USA took a 6-0 victory.

After an off day, the Junior Eagles will return to Tamanawis Park on Tuesday, July 9 for their final match before crossovers – a match-up against No. 3 Argentina at 5:00 p.m. ET.

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

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