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U-21 USMNT Fall to Argentina at JPAC, Look Ahead to Rematch in Semifinals

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SURREY, BC, Canada – In their final match before crossovers at the 2024 Junior Pan American Championships (JPAC) in Surrey, Canada, the No. 25 U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team faced No. 3 Argentina. The Junior Wolves were stifled by a powerful Argentina attack, but will now look ahead to semifinals tomorrow.

The U-21 USMNT entered the match as underdogs, against an Argentina side that has been dominant throughout the week. Amar Singh (Santa Clara, Calif.) stood up to his first test in goal in the second minute, blocking a shot and sending it out. A minute later, the red, white and blue conceded their first corner, but again Singh was ready. The first offensive chance for USA was seen in the 5th minute, as Noah Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) brought the ball up to top right side but was unable to make a play happen. Sekayi Charasika (Louisville, Ky.), weaving up out of the backfield, pushed up for another brief offensive effort from the Junior Wolves. Minutes later, on an Argentina penalty corner, Charasika rushed up and blocked the shot. Argentina finally broke through in minute 11, sending one past Singh to take a 1-0 lead. It was 2-0, Argentina, one minute later off a nice give-and-go in the circle, and Argentina tallied a third to finish off the frame 3-0.

As USA tried to escape their backfield to start the second quarter, Argentina put on a high press to win the ball back, quickly getting back on attack. A hard shot from the top of the circle put Argentina up 4-0 in the 19th minute. A little over 60 seconds later, the ball ramped off the stick of an Argentina attacker into the net, as they took a 5-0 lead.

In the 21th minute, a perfectly placed ball from Rory Bleeker (Liden, Netherlands) up to Mendoza looked good for USA, but the Argentina goalkeeper was able to shut down the attempt. After a stretch of good defensive play, USA gave up another penalty corner in the 25th minute, but the ball was mistrapped by Argentina at the top. After a solid effort from Bleeker, dribbling 30 yards up the field, the Junior Wolves had their first penalty corner chance, which was without result. Argentina transitioned quickly, and Singh was making another save on a penalty corner. The quarter would close out with Argentina leading 5-0.

A tough Argentina side did not relent in the second half, tallying their sixth goal of the match 4 minutes in and another 2 minutes later. Singh notched another stop in minute 37, as Argentina sustained their offense, forcing USA on their heels for a majority of the quarter. With the final minute of the third winding down, Singh made one final save, as Argentina kept their 7-0 lead.

The fourth quarter saw tensions rise between the two teams, despite Argentina retaining most of the possession. The Junior Wolves found themselves down one player when Mees Kloen (Amsterdam, Netherlands) received a green card at minute 50, and were defending a penalty corner soon after. The drag from Argentina was good, giving them an 8-0 lead. It was barely a minute later that Argentina struck again, going up 9-0 with 8 minutes left to play. Argentina tallied one more in the final two minutes to make it double digits, then nailed two penalty strokes in the final 40 seconds to take a 12-0 victory.

Despite the loss, the Junior Eagles will proceed to the semifinals tomorrow after logging two wins and tie. Finishing at fourth in the rankings, USA will rematch the first place ranked team, No. 3 Argentina, Wednesday, July 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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

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