Bhubaneswar: Suguri Hoshi scored a last minute equaliser as Japan held USA 2-2 in their final group B encounter of the FIH Men’s Series Finals here Monday morning at the Kalinga Stadium. In the process, however, USA ensured a direct entry into the semifinals as they ended as group toppers.
Both Japan and USA finished on seven points each from three games but the Americans finished on top due to better goal difference (+11). Japan will be playing Poland who finished third in Pool A, in the cross-overs June 12.
The Japanese as expected played attacking hockey, but what stood out was the defence of the American team who played out as a unit and thwarted the likes of Kenta Tanaka, Hirotaka Zendana and a few others.
The Asian Games gold medallist made 10 circle entries and earned four penalty corners in the first quarter itself but it was the astute defending from the 25th ranked USA side which ensured the score remain goalless after first 15 minutes.
The second quarter didn’t see anything different. Jonathan Klages who was the standout performer for USA so far, lived up to the billing and made some outstanding saves denying the Japanese attacking duo of Tanaka and Zendana.
However, the Americans upped their ante in the third quarter with occasional attacks and took a surprise lead in the 41st minute against the run of play. Fed by Christian de Angelis from the right, Tyler Sundeen put the ball through for Deegan Huisman whose diving effort saw the ball home past an outstretched Yusuke Takano.
However, their joy was shortlived as Japan equalised four minutes later through a brilliant field goal from Tanaka. The No.9 darted from the right, penetrated into the circle and hit a powerful reverse shot to slot home.
The 1932 Olympics bronze medallist winner, however didn’t have to wait for long as they regained the lead, this time it’s from Huisman again. After Sean Cichi’s shot was saved by Takano in the first attempt, the ball came to Huisman whose tap from the top was enough much to the joy of USA dugout.
There was still little more drama to add on as the Japanese equalised in two minutes from the final hooter through Suguru Hoshi whose shot went under Klages’ legs to bring a point to Japan.