BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Andy Shay said he couldn’t hear it from his position on the sideline. Just about everyone else seated at PNC Field could.
During a transition chance for the U.S. men’s Sixes team on Saturday, Conrad jogged slowly up the field. In the 100-degree Alabama heat, he was using a few precious seconds to re-energize. Great Britain’s Ryan Hunns pointed to him with his stick some 20 yards away.
“He doesn’t want the ball!” Hunns yelled.
It was clear as day. So was Conrad’s response.
The Virginia alum exacted his revenge a few minutes later. As Hunns crossed the ball past midfield, Conrad rushed him and checked him behind the midline. Just like in basketball, that’s an over-and-back turnover in the Sixes discipline. Out of frustration, Hunns kicked the ball a short distance, and the officials handed him a 30-second penalty for delaying the game.
Conrad then showed that he most certainly did want the ball, scoring in the man-up opportunity. Overall, he deposited five goals in a 17-9 win over Great Britain in Group A play of The World Games. The U.S. is now 2-0 with a goal differential of plus-25 and plays Australia on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Central in the final game of group play.
“I think a lot of it is, when you’re out there, especially in this game, you’re so tired,” Conrad said. “That type of little extra energy that you can get from anything, you can try and use that. That’s something we’re focused on.
“He gave it to me, and it was more of me just using it and hyping myself up to help the team. Any opportunity we can get as a team to use that type of energy and play our type of game, I think we can do that.”
Conrad was integral in keeping the U.S. afloat in the early stages. The score was tied at 4 at halftime before the U.S. blew it open with a four-goal spurt to begin the second half. Conrad scored three of the team’s first five goals as Jack Kelly (13 saves) stood on his head to deny Great Britain scoring chances.
It wasn’t as if the U.S. wasn’t getting any shots. There were plenty of looks, many from several yards away — a stark contrast to the interior scoring showcased in the team’s 27-10 rout of Germany the day before.
“I think we’re just trying to develop chemistry, and it’s just one of those things where, if we bury our shots, I think we play a little looser,” Shay said. “I give the guys credit. They stuck with it and were positive at halftime. They kept shooting, and they started to fall. As soon as they started to fall and they loosened up, they played a little better.”
Just like against Germany, every player but Kelly scored. Conrad led the way with five and has a team-high eight scores through two games. Colin Heacock and Ryan Tierney (two goals each) were the only other multi-goal scorers for the U.S., which shot 17-for-39.
“The hard part is getting the shot. It’s not finishing the shot, especially in this game,” Conrad said of the team’s first-half scoring struggles. “The only thing we were doing was keeping the positivity, and that’s huge in this game. You don’t want things to compound on each other.”
A champion just about everywhere he’s been, Conrad has won titles in high school (Loyola Blakefield) in college (Virginia) and with the U.S. U19 team in 2016. Conrad’s goal with eight seconds left against Canada captured a gold medal for that U19 team in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and moments like those sharpened his ability to stay level-headed.
So, when Hunns got to chirping, Conrad didn’t flinch. He just readied for his chance to quiet him.
“I think, especially in the U19 games, just playing against these types of teams and in these types of moments, I think it’s something that you just bring that pride and play with that USA swagger,” Conrad said. “Leaning on those experiences is what’s ultimately going to bring us to the gold.”
SATURDAY’S WORLD GAMES SCORES
Australia 24, Germany 8
United States 17, Great Britain 9
Canada 26, Japan 10
Haudenosaunee 16, Israel 12
SUNDAY’S WORLD GAMES SCHEDULE
ALL TIMES CENTRAL
Germany (0-2) vs. Great Britain (1-1), 10:30 a.m.
United States (2-0) vs. Australia (1-1), 3:30 p.m.
Japan (0-2) vs. Haudenosaunee (1-1), 12 p.m.
Canada (2-0) vs. Israel (1-1), 2 p.m.
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