MNT Drops First Match of 2023 Pan American Games Campaign
by Matthew Collins
Despite a strong first half performance, the Men's National Team dropped a 28-14 contest to Argentina, in the first match of the 2023 Pan American Games, in Vina Del Mar, Chile.
Abou Fofana opened the scoring with a goal from the 9 meter line 30 seconds into the match. After an Argentina equalizer, Pal Merkovszky supplied a breakaway save, and a great assist from Joey Stromberg found Sean Corning on the right wing to put the USA back up one.
After trading goals back and forth for the opening minutes of the tournament, Drew Donlin drew a 7 meter penalty shot in the 16th minute and Sean Corning converted the opporunity to extend the lead to 3 for the Americans, 7-4.
As the teams corssed the 20 minute mark of the first half, the USA held a 8-5 lead. However, Argentina ended the half on a 6-3 run, resulting in the USA being down 11-10 as the teams headed into the break.
During the second half, the USA struggled offensively, only able to supply two goals in the first 22 miuntes. Ian Hueter faked out two Argentina defenders and lobbed the goalkeeper, providing the first goal for the USA in second half in the 6th minute and Benjamin Edwards winning a 7 meter penalty shot, which Sean Corning dispatched in the 18th minute.
Amar Amitovic got on the scoresheet in the 22nd minute and Drew Donlin added a goal at the buzzer, but in the end, Argentina pulled away to win by 14.
Sean Corning and Abou Fofana led the American squad with 4 goals each.
Every USA player saw the floor, with the aforementioned Benjamin Edwards getting his first Senior Men's National Team minutes, being recently added to the squad after strong performances at the Junior and Youth World Championships.
The USA have no time to dwell on this defeat, as they take on Cuba on October 31st. Cuba comes off a heartbreaking defeat against Uruguay, who scored a 7 meter penalty shot at the buzzer to secure a precious victory in Group B.
When asked about how they move on past the loss, and into tomorrow's matchup versus Cuba, Drew Donlin said, "We just got to build off the good things that happened in the first half. We played really solid defense, we were taking care of the ball...but we got to be more discplined in the second half. We can't have as many turnovers, we got to communicate better, but I'm confident we can turn it around."
On the difference between the team's performance in the first and second half, Captain Ian Heuter added, "First half was pretty good. We did our job there, unfortunately, we were one behind, could have maybe went with a lead into the half. And second half, we just made too many technical mistakes, and...that's what we have to work on when we play Cuba tomorrow."