2011 Pan American Challenge - Uruguay claim both titles

The first Pan Am Challenge has finished in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The Pan Am Challenge is a new competition organized by the Pan American Hockey Federation to provide a competitive opportunity for teams to qualify for the top-tier Pan American Cup.

On the Men’s side, with only three participating teams, the top two teams after six days of Round-Robin play would qualify for the 2013 Pan American Cup in Canada. Uruguay finished first; crowd favorite Brazil was second and Paraguay was third. Uruguay and Brazil have therefore earned a berth for the 2013 Pan American Cup.

Both Uruguay and Brazil won over Paraguay by large margins. Paraguay only had 14 players on their roster, but put forth a commendable collective effort throughout the tournament. After a 0-0 tied match earlier in the tournament, Uruguay’s 3-1 victory over Brazil on the last day solidified their top finish in the 2011 Pan Am Challenge. Uruguay was led on offense by Juan Manuel CANESSA, Federico IGLESIAS and Mateo PEREIRO.

The Uruguayan men’s team also received the Fair Play Award. Brazil were recognized with the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award, going to DANIEL TATARA, and the Player of the Tournament award, going to Augusto DE PAULA FELIPE. Brazil’s Yuri VAN DER HEIJDEN and DE PAULA FELIPE each scored five goals and shared the Top Scorer of the Tournament award.

On the Women’s side, the 2011 Pan Am Challenge was played as a full Round-Robin between the five teams, followed by classification matches. Uruguay finished on top of the standings, with a large 6-0 victory over Guyana in the Final to secure their first place. Uruguay was led throughout the tournament by Player of the Tournament, Janine STANLEY, and in scoring by Karina BISIGNANO and Lucia DE MARIA. BISIGNANO and DE MARIA both tied with Paraguay’s Maria SERVIAN GIOSA for Top Scorer of the Tournament with four goals apiece.

Like Uruguay, Guyana also qualified to the 2013 Pan American Cup with their second place in the competition. Guyana emerged as the surprise team of the tournament. With their six goal win over Bermuda, and Brazil’s 4-1 victory over Paraguay, Guyana just squeaked ahead of Brazil for a spot in the Final based on goal difference (by one goal!). Based on their respectable team efforts throughout the tournament, Guyana received the Fair Play award.

Home crowd favorite Brazil was disappointed not to make the Final, but were happy with their third place finish—a best ever result for Brazilian Women’s hockey. Behind the solid play of Goalkeeper of the Tournament, Claudia FLORES GUILLEN, Paraguay finished in fourth place in the 2011 Pan Am Challenge; with Bermuda finishing in fifth place.

The 2013 Women’s Pan American Cup will be organized in Mendoza, Argentina, from April 5 to 15, and the 2013 Men’s Pan American Cup will be organized in Brampton (Toronto), Canada, from May 2 to May 13. The winner of each competition will earn an automatic berth for the 2014 World Cups in The Netherlands.