U-21 USMNT Fall to Argentina in JPAC Semifinals, Set for Bronze Match & JWC Qualification on Monday
by USA Field Hockey
IMAGES TAKEN BY WORLD SPORT PICS
SAINT MICHAEL, Barbados – The U.S. U-21 Men's National Team matched up against Argentina in the semifinals of the 2023 Junior Pan American Championships (JPAC) at the Wildey Hockey Centre located in the Sir Garfield Sobers Sport Complex in Saint Michael, Barbados. The Junior Wolves entered the contest after a win over Barbados, but faced a powerful challenge against Argentina, ultimately falling 7-0.
"The boys fought hard against a strong Argentina side," said U-21 USMNT Head Coach Pat Harris. "A lot of positive things to takeaway. Now we rest and prepare to compete for a spot at the Junior World Cup on Monday."
USA knew they were up against a tough opponent when they faced Argentina in the JPAC Semifinals. From the starting whistle, Argentina put USA under high pressure. The Junior Wolves’ defensive unit held strong until the 10th minute when Los Leones notched the first of two goals in the opening frame. Off a penalty corner re-award, captain Inaki Minadeo buried a drag into the bottom left corner. Two minutes later, Argentina capitalized on a miss trapped ball in the USA defense that led to Bautista Poletti making it 2-0.
The second quarter followed suit with Argentina on the front foot, earning multiple circle entries. The red, white and blue settled for a period and used good ball movement to work it up the right side but were met by a poised Argentina defense. In the 24th minute, USA earned their first penalty corner after Sekayi Charasika (Louisville, Ky.) was tackled from behind just outside the circle. USA was unable to convert on the play back to the inserter, and Argentina resumed their pressing ways while also earning green cards in the 25th and 28th minutes. Los Leones added another in the 29th minute off another penalty corner goal by Minadeo, and a minute following, Bautista Fortes punished a deep turnover to make it 4-0 at the half.
USA continued to be haunted by double turnovers in the third quarter in which a skilled and disciplined Argentina side always looked to counter on. Opening the frame with a handful of set pieces, USA defended them well before getting an attacking chance of their own. In the 38th minute, the Junior Wolves broke into their attacking end but were unable to positively get into the circle. This led to Argentina exploiting with a quick counter where they earned a penalty corner as Charasika was issued a 5-minute yellow card. Off the third penalty corner in a row, Minadeo buried another drag to record a hat trick. Five minutes later, Los Leones tallied again when a threaded ball got into the circle and Ramiro Infanzon put in the goalmouth cross to make it 6-0.
Five minutes into the fourth quarter, Argentina was issued a 5-minute yellow card, giving USA hope to cut the goal margin. Their chances got larger 2 minutes later when Los Leones was issued another 5-minute yellow card. Unfortunately, USA was unable to capitalize as Argentina added one more goal to close out the match at 7-0.
Next, USA will play either Chile or Canada on Monday, April 17 at 12:30 p.m. ET. USA will be fighting for a bronze finish and a spot at the FIH Hockey Junior World Cup, as the top-3 men's teams from JPAC qualify.
For more information regarding the Junior Pan American Championships, visit the event page.
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