FIH Hockey5s World Cup Bound: USMNT Punch Ticket with Win Over Paraguay
by USA Field Hockey
Images taken by WorldSportPics
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The U.S. Men’s National Team took on Paraguay in the semifinals of the 2023 Hockey5s Pan American Cups (PAC). Up against a tricky opponent, USA held a 2-0 lead at the half and made the most of their opportunities for a comfortable 5-1 win. With the victory, the USMNT has qualified for the first-ever FIH Hockey5s World Cup, set to take place in January 2024 in Muscat, Oman.
"I'm really proud of the discipline this group showed," said Will Holt, Hockey5s USMNT Assistant Coach." The semifinals require focus on the details, and executing in critical moments. That’s exactly what these men did tonight. Paraguay is fast team that is very skillful, and excels in counter attacking. Our side was clinical in minimizing their opportunities, and forcing them to play a slow game."
"We are excited for this program to have the opportunity to compete at a [Hockey5s] World Cup. Looking back to the recent indoor success, this group is trending in the right direction. We’ll look to continue this momentum on Sunday, and through the summer as we build toward the Pan American Games later this fall."
USA started the game with a quick shot that put Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fleitas on his toes. Paraguay’s game plan was to keep as much possession as possible and they did so by swinging it around the backfield as USA sat in a half-court press. When the opportune moment presented the Wolves attacked together and in the 4th minute tallied the first goal. After Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) won a free hit, he took it quickly and passed to Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) on the right who touched it into space and ripped a shot into the bottom corner. In the 7th minute, Paraguay’s Elias Vera was issued a green card and USA took advantage by extending their lead. Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.) picked it up in the left corner, shot the ball toward Fleitas and although he made the initial stop, it trickled over the goal line making it 2-0. Off the restart, Paraguay got a shot off that USA goalkeeper Tristan Clemons (Hattiesburg, Miss.) stopped but the score stood heading into the break.
To start the second, Paraguay resumed their possession strategy, but USA didn’t sit back. After backhand shot by Dhadwal was denied by Fleitas, Barminski followed up with a forehand goal coming from just inside the half. With the 3-0 lead, the Wolves changed their tactics, slowed the tempo and kept control. In the 15 th minute, Paraguay added one back after a shot by Santiago Chamorro hit the end board just near the goal post and unfortunately got behind Clemons. This didn’t stop USA’s offensive threats as Henzor Motta (San Juan, Puerto Rico) added another in the 18th minute and just before the final horn, Sundeen buried a shot into the far corner for the final score of 5-1.
USA secured their spot in the final against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday, June 11 at 7:15 p.m. ET. They also punched their ticket to the first-ever FIH Hockey5s World Cup, set to take place in January 2024 in Muscat, Oman.
For more information regarding the Hockey5s Pan American Cups, visit the event page.
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