Indoor USMNT Achieve Best Ever Finish at FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, Fall in Shootout to Iran
by USA Field Hockey
Images Taken by World Sport Pics
PRETORIA, South Africa – The No. 18 U.S. Men’s National Indoor Team left it all out on the court when they faced No. 3 Iran in the bronze medal match of the 2023 FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup. USA came from behind twice as both sides tallied a goal apiece in each of the quarters to end regulation tied at 4-4. The red, white and blue unfortunately fell in the shootout, 2-3, but claimed fourth, the team’s highest ever finish at the event.
An early intend by Iran, that tested USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany), was matched by an effort from the red, white and blue but to no avail. The deadlock was broken in the 4th minute when Iran capitalized off a penalty corner through Reza Norouzzadeh. Tensions rose as the match started to get intense and physical. That didn’t dwell the USA because with 1-minute to go before the quarter break, they found the equalizer after Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Calif.) sent it off the right board down to Marius Leser (Mannheim, Germany) who spun and shot, and Stuart Kentwell (Spring City, Pa.) was on the rebound to make it 1-1.
The pressures continued to rise in the second quarter as the match was evenly balanced in the 10-minute frame. Iran started it off by winning a penalty corner, but the shot went wide. In the 14th minute, USA took the lead after S. Kentwell showed great individual skill by weaving between three Iran defenders and scoring a reverse flick to make it 2-1. The red, white and blue followed up with a close chance after Jack Heldens (Hamburg, Germany) laid it off the boards to Kai Kokolakis (Melbourne, Fla.) who got it to S. Kentwell on the pads, but Iran goalkeeper Sasan Hataminejad made the stop. Two minutes after the score, Iran leveled the game again on an unfortunate penalty corner re-award goal. USA continued to threaten, even produced a penalty corner opportunity, but the score remained locked at 2-2.
Just 3 minutes into the third quarter Iran took the lead for the first time in the game off a low angle shot by Amirmadi Mirzakhani that went over the shoulder of Klages. Although trailing, USA didn’t fret and maintained composure in their attacking end and saw a few chances go unrewarded. With just 8 seconds to go before the break, S. Kentwell picked up the ball in the middle of the court, drove right and scored to once again even the game as well as record a hat-trick.
Tied 3-3 heading into the final frame, the game was any teams for the taking. USA started on the front foot, finding chances through Leser and Heldens but in the 33rd minute Iran took the lead on individual effort from Mohammad Karimi. USA dug deep to maintain Iran’s attack and the game plan worked as in the 37th minute they earned a penalty corner. On the set piece, A. Kaeppeler slipped it to Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) whose shot on frame hit an Iran defender’s foot giving USA a penalty stroke. Specialist A. Kaeppeler calmly stepped up and converted to once again level the game at 4-4. Late pushes by both sides couldn’t change the score line as regulation ended to send it to a shootout.
The shootout saw USA miss in the first-round while Iran scored all three of their chances, as the red, white and blue dropped a heartbreaker in the bronze medal match.
Following the game, Iran’s Reza Norouzzadeh was named Player of the Match.
USA’s best-ever finish at an FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup was 11th place.
For more information regarding the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, visit the event page.
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