The Hockey Tridents took the field Thursday against Japan in their quarterfinal berth of the Hockey World League in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago, and the script seemed to be a replay of the last pool game against Canada. In the first minute Japan found the back of the net through a seemingly routine passage of play, 1-0 to Japan.
The boys in aquamarine and gold after a weak start seemed to consolidate quickly and by the fifth minute were trading punches with Japan making promising inroads deep in Japanese territory. Playing a very defensive game the Bajan boys pressed on through the quarter disciplined and compact. However, with five minutes left in the period Japan exploited the lack of counter control through Tanaka Seren with a simple tap in over the advancing Andre Boyce the Barbadian custodian, 2-0 to Japan.
Late in the quarter the Hockey Tridents survived a siege as the Japanese could not convert from a string of three penalty corners.
The Japanese started the second period with high pressure which paid off after just two minutes when they were awarded a penalty corner but again the Hockey Tridents proved equal to the task, Kris Holder charging down the strike.
The local boys again worked to consolidate and after yeoman work down the right side from Akeem Rudder they were rewarded with a penalty corner. It was the Japanese’s turn to absorb the pressure and the Hockey Tridents asked some serious questions of their defence.
Having all the right answers Japan turned a solid defence into attack after a last ditch tackle from Jerome Harewood only delayed the inevitable. Japan winning a penalty corner, converted easily to make it 3-0.
The Bajan boys dug in and fought their way to the half without addition to the deficit.
The Hockey Tridents again came out very lively and were rewarded with some real estate deep in Japanese territory. However, the overzealousness translated into a heavy challenge in defence. The resulting penalty corner brought goal-line heroics out of Keenan Knight, introduced at half-time in the Bajan goal.
The score-line remained the same until a goal line error, uncharacteristic of Che Warner, led to the Japanese’s fourth.
With five minutes left in the third period Barbados seemed set on opening their account, stubbornly camping out in the Japanese defensive territory. Japan, as they have all tournament, found release from a quick counter, but the Hockey Tridents held fast.
Knight again had last second heroics to deny Japan any advance in their tally this period.
The Hockey Tridents moving from strength to strength, again pressed the Japanese and although the pace of the game must have been telling on their legs they maintained their structure denying Japan another.
Until in a moment of individual brilliance the Japanese number 15 broke the deadlock with a cheeky reverse stick lift over the advancing Knight, 5-0 to Japan.
The Hockey Tridents again surged forward pressing the Japanese defence in search of a goal. The drive was impressive and deserving of a goal. The disciplined and well-rehearsed Japanese defensive unit however, gave no quarter and the game would end 5-0 to Japan.
Barbados now move on to the 5-8 playoffs Saturday and wait to see who comes out on the losing end of USA versus Trinidad and Tobago, that match will flick off at 3:30p.m.