2017 Pan American Cup - 1/2 Final - Canada vs. USA

Floris van Son’s final shoot out strike booked Canada a spot in the Pan American Cup final following a 4-3 shootout victory over USA. Canada’s Gordie Johnston and USA’s Paul Singh each scored on a penalty corners in regular time, while Canadian keeper Dave Carter made two saves in the shoot out victory.   

The intensity from the opening whistle showed just how close the North American rivalry is. Canada and USA met in the 2013 Pan American Cup semifinals with Canada going through in a shootout victory after a scoreless match. Johnston was the first strike, perfectly executing a drag flick to the top left corner on a Canadian penalty corner in the 8th minute. USA, bolstered by their home crowd, didn’t seem rattled and were right back in the other end causing havoc in the Canadian circle. In the 14th minute, Will Holt earned the home side their first penalty corner. Mohan Gandhi’s sweep through the stroke mark found Paul Singh’s stick and the ball deflected high into the net to tie the game 1-1.

USA retreated to their half to force Canada out of their zone and the counter-attack strategy paid dividends as Pat Harris, Tyler Sundeen and Michael Barminski seemed to have a lot of attacking space to put the Canadians under pressure. In the 23rd minute, Barminski tore down the right side and released a back-hand booked for the corner but the out-stretched toe of Canadian net minder Carter was there. Canada seemed to lose their tempo and composure from pool-play games and had few circle entries. The game remained tied at one entering half time.

Canada had two penalty corner chances in the 38th minute after van Son was hauled down on a break towards the circle. American keeper Brandon Karess denied both attempts despite the volume of traffic in front of him. Deegan Huisman earned USA a penalty corner in the 40th minute but it was blocked and cleared by the Canadian defence. Alex Grassi had the best chance for the go-ahead goal but his sliding deflection was matched by the agility of Carter in the Canadian goal. 

The fourth quarter was full of scrappy desperation and the resulting 1-1 score sent the game to a shootout, a repeat of 2013. USA shot first with Harris scoring and Canada’s Johnston responding. Carter denied both Huisman and Ajai Dhadwal, while the remaining Americans Sundeen and Aki Kaeppeler both scored. Canada’s Keegan Pereira and Balraj Panesar also scored, while Sukhi Panesar’s shot went wide of the net. The teams were tied at three and van Son was the last shooter. The 25-year-old calmly walked the ball into the top the circle and unleashed a back-hand shot that fired under the cross bar and rippled the meshing to send Canada to their fifth-straight Pan American Cup final against Argentina. USA will play Trinidad and Tobago for bronze.