Argentina out-powered Trinidad & Tobago in the second half of their semi-final to finish with a comfortable win (8-0); Canada had to fight to the very end to keep a narrow one-goal lead over the USA. The two continental arch-rivals Argentina and Canada will meet in the Final of the Pan American Cup on Saturday.
Match 16 – Semi-final - Canada vs. USA: 1-0 (half-time: 1-0)
This match between Canada and the USA was a rematch of the Final of the 2009 Pan American Cup in Chile, when the Canadians narrowly edged the Americans 2-1 after overtime.
The Americans started at full speed, challenging Dave Carter in the Canadian goal twice in the opening minute of play and forcing a penalty-corner, but the Canadian goal-keeper was on the ball with a diving stick save. USA kept their momentum going for the opening 7 minutes, then Mark Pearson forced a penalty-corner for Canada, but Scott Tupper’s low flick was well guarded by Sean Harris on the post.
The tone of the match was clearly given, with fast attacking hockey from both teams. Canada opened the scoring in the 10th minute by rooky Sukhpal Panesar, receiving a cross from the left, pivoting away from his guard and hammering a bullet out of reach of Chris Rea in the USA goal.
The high tempo of play continued relentlessly, much to the entertainment of the crowd. There was not much build-up in midfield, and balls were travelling quickly to high attackers at both ends of the pitch, with neither team managing to take control of the proceedings.
Matthew Guest had a strong attempt after powering his way into the circle, then Iain Smythe, then Scott Tupper on penalty-corner but the Americans weathered the storm and suddenly surged forward in the final minutes of the period, besieging the Canadian circle and earning two penalty-corners in the final minute of play. Scott Tupper managed a fantastic high stick save on Pat Harris’ flick and the break was reached with the one-goal lead for Canada, but the clear feeling that the match could go either way.
Second period started with the same scenario of both teams going wildly at each other without holding back anything. Play was entertaining for the spectators, but messy at times with unforced errors and passes going astray on both sides. With time passing and neither team able to make a meaningful move on the scoreboard, emotions started to boil up, both on the pitch, in the stands and on the team benches.
The USA forced a penalty-corner in the 50th minute but could not capitalize, then were hindered by a yellow card. Clock was slowly ticking down, although probably too slowly for the nervous home fans realizing that a one-goal lead could evaporate quickly in this kind of match. Canada however was not trying to protect their lead and kept pushing for the break. It never came but a yellow card to Dave Jameson allowed a late surge from the Americans who had replaced their goalkeeper with an extra attacker. Under intense pressure and despite their tiring legs, the Canadians managed to hold the fort until the end.
Canada will play against their arch-rivals Argentina in the Final on Sunday; the USA will play for Bronze against Trinidad & Tobago.
For more information and pictures of CAN vs. USA, click here.
Match 15 – Semi-final - Argentina vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 8-0 (half-time: 2-0)
First semi-final of 2013 Pan American Cup was played under bright summer sun in Brampton, with Trinidad & Tobago starting cautiously to avoid exposing their circle to the powerful Argentinean armada (with 4 of their strikers in the top 5 goal scorers of the tournament!). First chance was however for Trinidad & Tobago on a penalty-corner earned by Mickell Pierre, but Kwan Browne’s powerful attempt was well handled by Juan Vivaldi, facing his first serious challenge in this competition.
Both teams did not bother much about patient built-up in midfield and the ball was flowing quickly from one end to the other, with frequent long aerial balls. Argentina were denied on their first two penalty-corners by Andrey Rocke in the Trinidadian goal, and seemed to struggle at time to find their rhythm in front of skillful opponents, well organized in defense around Kwan Browne.
Argentina were denied again on penalty-corner by Andrey Rocke, and Trinidad & Tobago had a golden chance on their swift counter-attack but Christopher Scipio’s diving deflection in front of the Argentinean keeper went just wide. Argentina were finally successful on their fifth penalty-corner in the 29th minute, powered out of reach of the goal-keeper by Gonzalo Peillat. Peillat immediately doubled his tally on another penalty-corner, and Argentina were suddenly seating on a two-goal lead going into the half-time break.
Argentina scored early in second period after a lengthy sequence of pin-ball in front of Andrey Rocke, finally tapped in by Argentinean captain Lucas Rey. Then Lucas Vila inherited a ball alone on the penalty-stroke point and made no mistake to add another goal. With the gap widening, Trinidad & Tobago seemed to realize that they would not come back and their tempo declined a notch. They had a chance on penalty-corner but Kwan Browne’s low attempt did not have the same intensity as earlier in the match.
With the Trinidadian defense starting to fade under the pressure, Argentina ran away with the score, adding 6 goals to finish on the impressive mark of 8-0. They missed the final of the 2009 Pan American Cup after losing in semi-final against Canada, but will walk into Saturday’s final in Brampton without having been challenged much, except by Trinidad & Tobago in the first half of this semi-final.
For more information and pictures of ARG vs. TTO, click here.
Schedule for Saturday August 17:
9h00 (7-8): Brazil vs. Uruguay
11h30 (5-6): Mexico vs. Chile
16h30 (3-4): Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
19h00 (Final): Argentina vs. Canada