Junior USMNT Caps Off Chile Test Series With Rigorous Finale
SANTIAGO, Chile - March 17, 2018 - The U.S. U-16 and U-19 Men's National Teams finished their fifth and final game of a friendly test-series against Chile, with several positive takeaways following a week of intense training, flexibility and execution by both squads.
"The week was what the junior programs needed," said Rutger Wiese, Junior U.S. Men's National Teams Head Coach. "It gave the coaching staff valuable time to evaluate players during contested games and a decent amount of time to train. The players get to experience travel combined with demanding training and games. Chile has been a strong junior program for sometime and we need to raise our level to compete, which is what will happen after this week."
Friday, March 16
U-16 USMNT 0 - 1 Chile
USA's defense stepped up when it needed to as the Chile offense boasted a tenacious intensity from the opening whistle. Chile had multiple scoring chances in the opening quarter, including two penalty corners, but all were denied by USA, keeping the score at a 0-0 deadlock. The coaching staff was quick to note the chemistry of Gerald Cutone (Reading, Mass.) and Brett Eisner (Lafayette, Calif.) at the full back positions finding ways to hold up the defense, as well as setting up outlets upfield. Offensively, USA was not without a counter attack earning several scoring chances of their own and multiple penalty corners. Unfortunately like their adversaries, the red, white and blue could not find the net. Back the other way, Chile was first to find a crack in the defense, netting a field goal to give the team a 1-0 lead before the break.
In the second half, USA struggled to find opportunities in the circle. Additionally, team fatigue was much more evident on the homestretch of a week of competition that had only two reserves. As a result, Russell Smith (Camarillo, Calif.) shifted from goalkeeper in the first half to the forward line, adding some fresh legs and immediately created the best opportunity of the game just missing a shot on goal. This energy boost gave the young squad more momentum as the second half rolled on. Stepping in at goalkeeper was Rafael Martell (Miami, Fla.) who was tested quickly in the third quarter blocking back-to-back shots on goal in the 41st minute. Martell followed up that play with another impressive effort in front of the cage on a Chile penalty corner chance early in the final frame, where Martell blocked the initial shot and the ensuing rebound. The U-16 USMNT fell in their final game against Chile, 1-0.
U-19 USMNT 1 - 6 Chile
Both teams were aggressive from the start, with a back and forth game and two swift scoring attempts on net by Chile to open up the first quarter. Moments later in the 8th minute, Chile followed up with the first score of the contest on a field goal. USA responded with a rapid shot on goal to help set and early tone of an even contest. This continued into the second quarter where Chile once again scored an early field goal for the 2-0 advantage in the 17th minute. USA immediately responded with a full-field counter attack up the far side, eventually connecting with a sliding Dean Shiller (Alexandria, Va.) on the far post to put USA on the board, 2-1. Unfortunately a few costly turnovers inside the USA 25 yard-line put the game out of reach as Chile was able to score before the half to make it 3-1.
Chile did not let off the gas pedal heading into the third, taking advantage of miscues by a more pressured USA squad. A penalty corner in the 37th minute was converted on a swift push to the lower left corner for the 4-1 lead. In the fourth quarter another quick score pushed the game further out of reach as Chile pulled to a 5-1 lead off a field goal. As the clock ticked down, USA tried to generate more scoring plays midway through the final frame. Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas)took a shot on goal from the near side of the circle, which was saved by Chile's goalkeeper but rebounded toward the center of the circle where Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) was ready with a quick follow-up shot that went into the goalkeeper's chest. After gaining control of the ball, Chile countered up field
and setting up another field goal in the 55th minute. Despite the effort, the U-19 USMNT was defeated by Chile 6-1.
Next up, the Junior U.S. Men's National Teams is set to have a training camp in Moorpark, Calif. from April 7-9. This is followed by another training camp and possible test matches in late-May and an additional training and Talent Identification Camp in late-June. Stay tuned to usafieldhockey.com for more updates on the Junior USMNT.