PNT Ready for Second Match at 2017 World Championships
Entering Matchday 4 of the 2017 IFCPF CP Football World Championships, the United States Paralympic National Team sits atop Group D. The team put on a stellar performance in a 6-0 opening win against Australia, but with its second group match against Northern Ireland (3 p.m. ET, YouTube) looming, there’s no time to get carried away over one result.
“I don’t even remember this game,” forward Seth Jahn said after Monday’s match. “I’m itching to get back at it.”
While the U.S. wasn’t sure what to expect from the Pararoos, the PNT controlled the match. The victory saw contributions from across the roster. Newcomer Cameron DeLillo scored a first-half brace and created an own goal, while fellow new addition Ben Lindau notched an assist. The team’s two leading scorers from the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Adam Ballou and Jahn, also made their mark on the scoresheet, combining for three goals and two assists.
“Everybody does all the hard work and I get the glory for it,” Jahn said with a laugh. “The boys moved the ball up well, dictated the play of the game.”
The PNT dictated the tempo of the match for the entire 60 minutes. After an early barrage of three goals in the first nine minutes, DeLillo earned his brace in the 21st and Ballou scored towards the end of each half, both off of beautiful build-ups.
“We scored some great team goals,” head coach Stuart Sharp said. “The work we’ve put in over the last nine months is really starting to pay off. There’s a lot more to come and hopefully it’s all going to be positive.”
Against Northern Ireland, the team won’t just be riding the momentum from the win over Australia, but building off a year’s worth of preparation, including an undefeated run through four international challenge matches in 2017.
“We’ve been ramping up for this tournament for the last nine months,” Jahn said. “Honestly, we have the easy job, our coaching staff has prepared us physically, mentally, we’re tactically more sound than we’ve ever been.”
Northern Ireland represents a team on the rise in the world of Paralympic soccer. The scrappy squad plays a physical style that has seen them rise to No. 13 in the world rankings. In its first match, the team fell 0-5 to reigning Paralympic champ Ukraine.
“Northern Ireland are fighters… that’s exactly what we want,” Jahn said. “We’re driven, we’re focused, we’re ambitious and we’re prepared.”