A remarkable turnaround from the last performance against Serbia. The US beats Croatia 7-5 based on yet more excellent defense and goaltending. Croatia did not shoot particularly well when they did get the chance. But the US, with its 2 meter defense by committee, deserves the bulk of the credit.
It is only a preliminary game, but one that could mark a definitive change in the way the team is perceived globally, and its competitive standing. The US really should put together a similarly good performance against the Germans in the next game. Some other notes, taken as the game progressed:
- With 1.24 left in first quarter, already two offensive fouls. Quite frustrating. The second of the two was followed immediately by an ejection by Peter Hudnut. Those are the kinds of mistakes that will cost the US dearly if they continue.
- A fascinating discussion among the American team was captured between the first and second quarters. Schroeder implores them to look back and “release for the ball. You’re all swimming with heads down.” Identical to thousands of age group water polo coaching admonitions, and heartening to see that it never changes no matter how much you’ve acheived.
- Krumpholtz enters and draws another ejection. How encouraging is he?
- Second quarter and the US already has three field blocks, two during 6 on 5.
- Where has Jeff Powers been?
- Adam Wright scores the penalty shot. Has Tony Azevedo given up that role?
- Tim Hutten scores on an awkwardly spinning power shot from 8 meters or so. Welcome to the world stage.
- Another comment captured from the US bench between the 3rd and 4th periods: “You gotta know where you’re going on 6 on 5. We can’t afford to waste 7 seconds.” Another comment perfectly appropriate at your frosh-soph high school game. The fundamentals never change.
- It’s the fourth quarter and another offensive foul, which are extremely difficult to spot via the internet feed.
- Mile Smodlaka scores from two meters. Not much scoring coming from his US couterparts. Do I expect too much?