Day 4 of the XIX Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile featured two tightly contested matches in women’s Pool B play. Despite dominating the play Mexico trailed by a goal before tying Cuba and hanging for the 1-1 draw. A jam-packed Estadio National roared on the Diablas who scored two goals late in the third quarter to beat Canada 2-0.
WOMEN Pool B: Mexico (1) – Cuba (1)
It was a tightly matched affair for Mexico and Cuba on the second day of women’s and Pool B play. Despite the run of momentum it was Cuba who stung first after a long ball into the circle from Sunaylis Nikle was touched by Yuraima Vera running across the circle. The ball skipped past Mexican keeper Jesus Castillo for a 1-0 Cuba lead, a lead that would stand until the third quarter.
Mexico had multiple free play and penalty corner chances to draw level with Marlet Correa blasting a shot wide in the first quarter and a routine from Dayan Cuevas that was blocked by Tahimi Licea on defence for Cuba.
Finally in the third quarter Mexico’s chance came as Cuba’s Helec Carta was sent to the half line after breaking early and a nifty routine from Maribel Acosta found a wide open Dariana Cardiel near the far post to touch in for the 1-1 leveler.
Cuba didn’t stop pushing and got territory and gained a penalty corner after a hard challenge from Mexico’s Valeria Espinoza on the speedy Yakira Guillen. The resulting penalty corner from Cheila Darias was steered away by Castillo.
A cross from Arlettis Tirse looked dangerous across the Mexican circle with both Yunia Milanes and Vera getting shots on goal but the crowded circle didn’t test Castillo and the ball was cleared in desperation.
Mexico had a late penalty corner with Cuba serving a 5-minute suspension with Licea off. The shot from Acosta was saved on the line by Sunaylis Nikle and the rebound saved by Garcia.
“It was a very tough match,” said Cuba keeper Yurismakis Garcia. “The Mexican team has a style of play very similar to ours. Even though we didn't win, and we got a draw, we are very happy after this match. The girls left everything on the field and I contributed by giving my all as goalkeeper.”
“We were in the circle a lot, with several opportunities to score goals, but we were unable to convert,” said Mexico’s Diariana Cardiel. “For now, we continue (to focus on) our next challenge, training and giving the best we can to represent Mexico and also apply everything we have been preparing.”
WOMEN Pool B: Canada (0) – Chile (2)
The opening half was as tight a contest as you could imagine with a full stadium roaring on their Diablas despite Maddi Thompson earning a penalty corner for Canada in the opening minutes. Karli Johansen’s flick was run down by Chile’s Fernanda Villagran and a second attempt denied by keeper Natalie Salvador.
In the other end a cracker of a ball from Denise Rojas Losada had potential for a penalty corner but a video referral deemed the ball Canada’s way. Towards the end of the opening quarter Paula Valdivia was unattended in front of the Canadian goal but keeper Rowan Harris was there to steer any look at goal. Right until the final seconds Chile pressed Canada with Losada thought she beat Harris but Sara McManus cleared the line to let Canada breathe.
The second quarter was much of the same – a gritty battle between the 23-meter lines. Kenzie Giris gave up a momentum shifting penalty corner to Chile but Thompson did well to run down the blat from Losada.
It was a tense third quarter with Chile finally getting on the board after a wave of penalty corners. Despite brave running from Thompson, Chilean captain Camila Caram broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute with a sweep hit that skipped over a diving Harris. Another series of penalty corners saw Chloe Walton sent off as the Canadian defence was no ready in time and forced to defend a player short. Losada swept the ball looking for the far post but the ball popped back to the stroke mark where Laura Müller was there to flip it over Harris to double Chile’s lead to 2-0.
The Diablas had a penalty corner with four seconds left in the third quarter but Fernanda Villagran’s low flick was denied by Harris setting up an even more intense fourth quarter.
Sam McCrory earned Canada a penalty corner with less than 10 minutes to go in the game but the McManus sweep was squandered by Paula Valdivia who blocked the ball and cleared it. In the 57th minute Chile had a final penalty corner, with Canada defending with one short again, but Losada’s sweep went wide. The third-quarter damage had been done and Chile held on for the 2-0 win and a spot at the top of Pool B.
"This was the most important match and where we wanted to win and we did it," said Chilean youngster Laura Müller who scored the second goal. "So now we have to enjoy this and prepare for what is to come, which is our next game against Cuba, where we will be as focused as we have been so far”.
“Even after they scored the goals, that’s what our team is going to look for to carry us forward to the next games and the games after that,” said Canadian keeper Rowan Harris. “I think we know when they’re pressing hard they’re going to come at us so how do we be brave in those moments and continue to implement our game plan? We did well in our circle defence and hold them off but it’s just how do I go forward and generate threat.”