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U-21 USMNT Through to JPAC Semifinals with Win Over Barbados

by USA Field Hockey

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SAINT MICHAEL, Barbados – The U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team took on Barbados in the final match of Men’s division pool play at the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships at the Wildey Hockey Centre located in the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex in Saint Michael, Barbados. Finishing with a 3-0 victory over the hosts, the Junior Wolves claimed the second place spot in Pool B and will move on to a semifinal match.

 

“We controlled the game well and were able to create a lot of chances by sticking to our principles,” said U-21 USMNT Head Coach Pat Harris. “Nice to get the win and be moving on to the semifinals!”

 

The match began with both teams trying to get a feel for the play, leading to some back-and-forth action in the midfield. USA quickly began to find their rhythm, connecting their passes both up the field and along the width of the defensive line. Pressure from the USA attack increased, as four minutes in Wyatt Katz (Santa Rosa Valley, Calif.) had the first shot on goal, which was saved by the Barbados goalkeeper. Not soon after, Luca Civetta (Key Biscayne, Fla.) stepped up to intercept a pass, then dribbled into the circle and slipped the ball past the goalkeeper with a low angle push to put USA up 1-0. USA continued the attack, earning several penalty corners. Finally, at the nine-minute mark, USA was able to convert. Gurcharan Johal (Phoenix, Ariz.) received at the top of the circle, then dribbled right and sent a powerful shot into the goal to increase USA’s lead to two. On the counter a few minutes later, Barbados earned their first penalty corner of the match, but the ensuing shot went wide of the cage. The Junior Wolves kept up their intensity, which included some pretty possession passing and an almost key aerial ball.

 

Hoping to come back, Barbados increased their pressure to start the second quarter, but were met with the solid sticks of USA’s defense. Back on the offensive, USA saw more chances – including a shot by Sekayi Charasika (Louisville, Ky.) and another by Johal soon after – and a few unproductive penalty corners. The half winded down with some tempered play, each team barely allowing the other within their attacking 25-yard line. USA entered halftime without giving up a shot, still leading by two goals.

 

USA was quick to tally another after the halftime break. On a penalty corner opportunity, Mehtab Grewal (Somis, Calif.) took an initial shot from the top that was saved by Barbados goalkeeper Tyrese Weekes, but Johal came in from off the post to push the ball into the net. Now down 3-0, Barbados moved quickly after the whistle restarted play, moving up the field and earning a penalty corner. The USA defensive corner unit was able to earn the free hit coming out, though, and get back to possession passing. At the 35 minute-mark Brett Eisner (Lafayette, Calif.) dribbled the ball into the circle, curling around the Barbados defender to get a shot off, which went wide of the goal. USA was quick to earn another penalty corner after that, but after missing the reception at the top, the Junior Wolves were scrambling as Barbados had a breakaway on attack. USA defender Michael Mendoza (Monument, Colo.) was there to shut down what could have been a great opportunity for Barbados. USA earned a few more penalty corners in the quarter without any payoff, and the quarter ended with the Red, White, and Blue leading 3-0.

 

In the final frame of the match, USA’s offensive pressure continued while tensions rose for both sides. USA accumulated several more penalty corners, while Barbados was able to protect their goal. With just about three minutes left to play, Charasika dribbled all the way out of USA’s defensive end and into the circle, facing pressure from several Barbados defenders along the way. Unable to find a good angle, Charasika’s shot was eventually sent wide. When the final whistle sounded, USA had come out with a 3-0 victory.

 

After finishing second in Pool B, USA will play in a semifinal crossover match against Pool A winner and reigning Junior World Cup Champion Argentina on Saturday, April 15 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

 

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

 

#JPAC2023


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