NEW HAVEN, Conn. - May 30, 2018 - The U.S. U-19 Men's National Team's final three games of the Junior Nations Invitational Tournament saw much improvement, even though the effort and hard work was not reflected on the scoreboard. In Thursday's game, USA sat on the defensive end for much of the match but their stealth play limited Japan penalty corner opportunities. Seven field goals were scored for Japan to take the game. Ireland produced a similar score in Friday's match, as USA fell 7-0. The final game of the tournament finished with the lowest goal margin for USA. Although they produced many offensive threats, Japan prevailed 5-1.
"We continue to show great growth and our hard work is starting to pay off," said Rutger Wiese, Junior U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach. "It is obvious that we need to continue playing against the best competition in the world and continue challenging ourselves locally, nationally and internationally. We’re looking for to our trainings and games the summer."
Thursday, May 25
USA 0, Japan 7
In their second match-up against Japan in the Junior Nations Invitational Tournament, the U.S. U-19 Men's National Team was shut out 7-0.
"Tonight we saw the team coming together more which resulted in improvement in ball movement and getting into pockets," said Shannon Taylor, Junior U.S. Men's National Team Assistant Coach. "We are keeping in mind the point of these games is to make sure we’re improving through each match."
Japan came out of the gate at full speed. After a quick goal by Japan in the first minute of play, USA and Japan settled into the familiar pattern of fast breaks by Japan with USA on the defensive end. Striving to remain solid, USA held Japan to two goals in the first quarter and only gave up one in the second quarter making the score 3-0 at the end of the half.
The second half saw Japan increase the pressure with multiple circle penetrations and shots on goal to ultimate close the game at 7-0. While the score reflects a win for Japan, other metrics show that USA showed improvements and built upon lessons learned in their previous matches. Japan earned five penalty corners but were denied satisfaction on all attempts.
Friday, May 26
USA 0, Ireland 7
In USA's second contest against Ireland, the Irish made the most of their scoring opportunities tallying seven on the scoreboard. USA allowed early goals in each quarter but improved their defense making it more difficult for Ireland to enter their attacking circle.
Sunday, May 27
USA 1, Japan 5
In the final game of the Junior Nations Invitational Tournament, USA played Japan and fell 5-1. Early goals placed Japan in the lead but USA's defensive on six of eight penalty corners reigned in Japan's scoring. USA created more offensive opportunities in this game, and a well-executed drag flick by Wander Hommes (Westlake Village, Calif.) on a penalty corner in the third quarter put USA on the scoreboard. The fourth quarter saw a series of attacks and counter attacked by both teams, but no goals were produced.
This past week, the U.S. U-19 Men's National Team had two practices games, five international matches and six practices. Exposing the men's Junior High-Performance to this kind of tour setting and the opportunity to compete against teams from countries with strong junior programs allowed the squad to work on cohesiveness, role clarity and communication.
USA Field Hockey and the Junior USMNT program would like to thank Ireland and Japan for making the trip to the first-ever Junior Nations Invitational Tournament. Another thank you goes to the volunteer event photographers, Christa DeAngelis, Maryse Govaert and Kathrine Hennessy, and all families and volunteers who helped make the event a success. A special word of thanks goes to LGC Valley for their support during the tournament.