Stellar Win Advances Indoor USMNT to FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Semifinals After Defeating Namibia
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken by World Sport Pics
PRETORIA, South Africa – The No. 18 U.S. Men’s National Indoor Team continues to make history after a stellar win over No. 16 Namibia advances them to the 2023 FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Semifinals. Tied at the half, USA made the most of their chances and withstood Namibia’s persistent attack to win 3-2 and for an opportunity to play for a medal.
A determined USA squad knew they had to score early and take care of possession to secure their place in the next round. The opening minutes saw the red, white and blue generate a few circle entries and their determination paid off in the 3rd minute when they went on-top, 1-0. The play started at the midway line when Aki Kaeppeler (New York, N.Y.) pushed forward and combined with Jack Heldens (Hamburg, Germany) on the right for a give and go to score. Two minutes later, Namibia leveled the score by tallying off a penalty corner when Pieter Jacobs passed it back to inserter Percy Barthram. The quarter closed with USA on the front foot but unable to find another result.
The opening minutes of the second quarter saw the red, white and blue continue their control but every time they broke into their attacking end they were met by solid defense from Namibia. As patient play built up, USA had a close chance when Stuart Kentwell (Spring City, Pa.) took a low angle shot that was saved by Namibia goalkeeper David Strauss. On the resuming play, A. Kaeppeler used his strength to break forward with space and Kai Kokolakis (Melbourne, Fla.) saw his touch saved by the quick reactions of Strauss. With 17 seconds remaining in the half, Namibia earned a penalty corner, but A. Kaeppeler saved the shot off the line and cleared it out of danger to keep it locked at 1-1.
Justt 26 seconds into the third quarter, USA regained the lead after Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) used strength through a tackle to get it to Marius Leser (Mannheim, Germany) on the right who slipped it past Strauss. A close chance came for Namibia in the 24th minute when a long ball to Barthram found him 1v1 with USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany) who made the stop. Two minutes following, Leser tested Strauss with a reverse spinning shot but the stop was lifted earning USA a penalty corner. Harris capitalized on the set piece on a slip from A. Kaeppeler to give USA the 3-1 advantage. Namibia put the red, white and blue under a lot of pressure in the closing minutes, even earning a late penalty corner, but couldn’t change the score line.
A persistent Namibia upped their offensive attack in the fourth quarter, putting USA under a lot of pressure. After an unsuccessful penalty corner, Namibia continued to threaten and saw a few close chances go unanswered. Strauss was removed from the game with 5 minutes to go and on the resuming play Barthram forced Klages to make back-to-back saves. After USA had a spell of attack, Strauss returned but then was taken back off in the 39th minute. The strategy paid off and in the final minute Namibia earned a penalty corner and converted to bring the score to 3-2. USA held strong on defense and withstood one final circle entry to advance to the semifinals.
Following the game, USA’S Aki Kaeppeler was named Player of the Match.
USA returns to the court tomorrow, February 11, to play in the semifinals against No. 7 The Netherlands.
For more information regarding the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, visit the event page.
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