Indoor USMNT Top Higher Ranked Czech Republic in First FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Pool Game, Powered by Leser Hat-Trick
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken by World Sport Pics
PRETORIA, South Africa – The No. 18 U.S. Men’s National Indoor Team started their 2023 FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup journey at Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria, South Africa against No. 5 Czech Republic. Action packed from the start, USA stuck to their game plan and made the most of their opportunities to top higher ranked Czech 4-3, powered by a hat-trick from Marius Leser (Mannheim, Germany).
USA started on the attack in the opening minutes. Following several circle penetrations, Leser made a great tackle that led to an early goal after tucking it under an oncoming Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Vetrosky. Czech leveled and then took the lead after going two-for-two on penalty corners. The first was a hard shot into the boards by Lukas Plochý and the second was a drag into the net by Martin Seemann to make it 2-1.
The second quarter saw the first few minutes in a stalemate before action picked up. In the 14th minute, great passing by USA found Leser 1v1 with Vetrosky. He was taken to the court on the play and earned the red, white and blue a penalty stroke. Aki Kaeppeler (New York, N.Y.) stepped up and converted to even the game at 2-2. On the resuming play, USA gave up a penalty corner, but Czech’s shot went wide. USA was issued a second penalty stroke after Stuart Kentwell (Spring City, Pa.) was taken out but unfortunately A. Kaeppeler’s attempt was saved by new Czech goalkeeper Tomáš Hanus. As things started to heat up, Plochý was issued a 4-minute yellow card in the 17th minute that gave USA an athlete advantage. Unable to capitalize on the power play, the halftime score stayed at 2-2.
Luckily, USA started the third frame still with the advantage and they made the most of it with the resuming penalty time. Just one minute in, quick passing led to Leser putting USA on top 3-2. Czech continued to pressure and earned another dangerous chance on a penalty corner. Off a slip pass, A. Kaeppeler made the stop on the goal line to hold the red, white and blue’s lead. USA almost doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) tried to lift it over an oncoming Vetrosky but Tomas Procházka battled it away on the line. The quarter closed with USA leading 3-2.
Comfortable holding the lead, USA remained poised, smart and deliberate with their possession to start the fourth quarter. Desperate to find some offense, Czech pulled their goalkeeper in the 36th minute and it only deemed to be detrimental. One minute later, Leser picked off a turnover and scored on an empty deep to record his hat-trick and make it 4-2. Czech added one back with seconds through Vit Soukup but USA held on for the 4-3 win.
Following the game, USA’s Marius Leser was named Player of the Match for his hat-trick.
USA returns to the court tomorrow, February 6, for their second pool game against No. 3 Iran at 10:50 a.m. ET.
For more information regarding the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, visit the event page.
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