History Made: Indoor USMNT Secure First-Ever Spot in FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Quarterfinals
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken By World Sport Pics
PRETORIA, South Africa – The No. 18 U.S. Men’s National Indoor Team made history, securing their first-ever spot in an FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Quarterfinals. Played at Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria, South Africa, the red, white and blue defeated No. 10 Australia, 4-2, to finish at the top of Pool B.
USA wasted no time to open the scoring when they got on the board in the 2nd minute. The play started when Aki Kaeppeler (New York, N.Y.) read an intercept out of the back, stepped hard and drove into the circle. Fortunately, his soft push onto the pads of Australia goalkeeper Benjamin Rennie was cleared high giving USA a penalty corner. It was A. Kaeppeler who finished the set piece to give USA a 1-0 lead. The Kookaburras took control for the middle portion of the frame and after a few circle penetrations found the equalizer in the 8th minute off a penalty corner through Nathan Czinner. The quarter ended deadlocked at 1-1.
Australia opened the second quarter on the front foot, testing USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany) twice off the restart. Klages came up with the saves, as USA pushed down the other way. USA regained the lead in the 13th minute from an identical penalty corner goal by A. Kaeppeler. The score was extended two minutes later, when Stuart Kentwell (Spring City, Pa.) buries a drag of his own to make it 3-1. The red, white and blue closed the half with another penalty corner chance but Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) saw his attempt stopped by Rennie.
Although Australia had the first look of the third quarter, USA maintained their scoring dominance by adding another in the 22nd minute. This came from Jack Heldens (Hamburg, Germany) who found Marius Leser (Mannheim, Germany) in the right corner and waited for support as Harris came through and finished to make it 4-1. In the 25th minute, Ben Staines was issued a 2-minute yellow card but that didn’t set back the Kookaburras as they earned a penalty corner, but to no avail. The final 5 minutes of the frame were played primarily between the circles as it closed in favor of USA, 4-1.
The Kookaburros had the upper hand in the fourth quarter, tallying the only goal of the frame. After a handful of attacking opportunities and circle penetrations, B. Staines sent a no-look, reverse flick into the net to cut the score to 4-2 in the 38th minute. The additional goal didn’t trouble USA and they continued to hold their composure, even having a final threat through S. Ketnwell, to win the match.
Following the game, USA’S Stuart Kentwell was named Player of the Match.
USA returns to the court tomorrow, February 10, to play the fourth-place finisher in Pool A, No. 16 Namibia, in the quarterfinals at 10:30 a.m. ET.
For more information regarding the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, visit the event page.
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