BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – It was another competitive day for the U.S. Masters Teams competing at the 2023 World Masters Hockey Pan American Continental Cup (PACC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Three teams competed in their second match of the tournament, with the Women’s O-50 team picking up their first victory.
The U.S. O-50 Men’s Masters Team fell to Chile in their second match, unable to get on the scoreboard despite close chances. The Golden Wolves stood strong defensively, holding Chile to four corners and three goals, including a 43-minute stretch that included the entire third quarter. However, USA was unlucky in the attacking circle with a pair of shots that hit the post.
The Golden Wolves were able to keep Chile at bay for the first five minutes of the game, not allowing them into the circle, before coming up with a steal that saw Erik Enters (Harleysville, Pa.) feed a ball up to Mike Sandhu (Walnut, Calif.). Sandhu was able to get free in the circle and unleash a powerful shot that hit the post before ricocheting back on to the stick of Chile defender, who was able to clear the ball from danger. Chile settled and worked the ball back up field where a sequence of passes found Felipe Morales at the top of the circle. His shot was slowed by USA goalkeeper Pradeep Menon (Cumming, Ga.), but it trickled past him to the line where Morales finished in the net in the 10th minute. Chile gained control after the restart and worked the ball back into the circle where they earned their first penalty corner of the match, but brilliant defending cleared away the danger, as USA trailed 1-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Another run by Sandhu at the start of the second quarter saw him eliminate three players on Chile and enter the circle, where he placed the ball on the foot of the center back and earned USA their first penalty corner. Raj Goraya’s (Kent, Wash.) powerful strike was barely kept out of the cage. Again Chile countered, winning a penalty corner at the other end of the field after their high pressure caused a turnover. This time Sebastian Wenz made no mistake and buried the direct shot to the boards, giving Chile a 2-0 lead, which they took into halftime.
USA continued to maintain control defensively and did not allow Chile any appreciable time inside their attacking circle. The only set piece of the quarter came on an upgrade outside the circle and again the Golden Wolves were able to dismiss it, picking up the loose ball and clearing it out. USA’s efforts got the ball up to their offensive end, where a shot by Ranjit Singh (Ashburn, Va.) went just wide of the cage.
In the fourth quarter, USA was able to keep putting pressure on Chile’s defense, and shots from Enters and Marian Mueller (Barrington, R.I.) were blocked. A late turnover by the USA led to a counterattack by Chile that saw Morales redirect a great cross into the far boards in the 69th minute of play for the final score of 3-0, Chile.
“The team played hard early and had many good chances to score and take the lead. A couple of unfortunate plays left us a couple of goals down,” said sweeper Barry Payne (Newton, Mass.), the Man of the Match for Team USA. “While we had some solid play, we were not able to convert chances and we let in one more goal to finish 3-0. While the score didn’t reflect the match, it has given us the opportunity to bring our game to another level.”
The Golden Wolves have the next two days off before looking to take that game to the next level, resuming play against Argentina on Monday, December 11. Pass back against Los Leones is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET at the Rugby Club Gimnasia y Esgrima in Buenos Aires.
The U.S. O-50 Women’s Masters Team beat Irupé 3-1 to earn their first win of the WMH PACC. In just the 5th minute, USA earned a penalty corner after Kathy Frick (Doylestown, Pa.) was taken down in the circle. On the set piece, Christine Couteau (Skillman, N.J.) stepped up to take the straight shot, which was deflected past the goalkeeper by Pam Stuper (St. Petersburg, Fla.) to give USA a 1-0 lead. After a few more attacking penalty corners for USA, the momentum shifted slightly and Irupé earned back-to-back penalty corners. Irupé was able to capitalize on the second by lifting the ball just slightly past the goalkeeper’s right side to tie the score at 1-1.
As the first quarter came to a close, USA earned another set piece opportunity from the work of Frick. Nori McCargo (Suwanne, Ga.) nailed it into the bottom corner of the cage past the Irupé goalkeeper to put the US in the lead again – 2-1. The second frame was relatively quiet, yet competitive. Both sides registered one penalty corner and no goals. USA held on to their 2-1 lead going into halftime.
There were several nice passing combinations throughout the game, and from one of these combinations resulted USA’s third goal. Margaret Kelly (Madison, N.H.) made a fantastic lead to the outside which created space for Carol Gulija (Flemington, N.J.) to carry to a threatening position. The move drew out several Irupé defenders, which allowed Gulija to pass to an overlapping Stuper. Stuper dribbled along the right baseline and fed a pass to Alison Smith (Highland Park, Ill.), who one-timed the ball into the goal to extend USA’s lead to 3-1 in the 41st minute. Despite a few player-down situations, the USA defense was able to keep Irupé off the board and hold onto their 3-1 lead after the third. The fourth quarter was full of back-and-forth, and the match ended with USA being victorious.
It was a tough match-up against a skilled Argentina side for the U.S. 60 Women’s Masters Team on Friday. The tone of the game was set very early by the hosts, who earned a penalty corner that was converted to a goal just two minutes in. Argentina capitalized again eight minutes later, securing a 2-0 lead as the first quarter came to a close.
USA settled in and stepped up their defense in the second frame, keeping Argentina out of the cage for the entire quarter. The halftime score stood at 2-0, Argentina. The hosts cracked the third quarter wide open – scoring three goals to bring their lead to 5-0 going into the final frame.
Four minutes in, Argentina converted a third set piece, bringing them up 6-0. At minute 65, Argentina was penalized with a yellow card, and USA took advantage of the player-up situation to earn their first penalty corner of the match. Despite the effort, the opportunity was fruitless, and Argentina took a commanding 6-0 victory.
To view the 2023 WMH PACC Event Page, click here.