LANCASTER, U.S.: Canada’s men wrapped the 2017 Pan American Cup earning the silver medal, losing only 2-0 to the world’s number one team, and reigning Olympic champions, Argentina, in the final men’s matchup.
Canada and Argentina’s matchup was a repeat of the 2013 Men’s Pan American Cup Final, which Argentina won 4-0, and Argentina adds this year’s Pan Am Cup title to their 2004 and 2013 championships.
In addition to the silver medal, Canada adds maybe less obvious accomplishments to their back pockets – like closing the scoring gap in comparison to earlier years, seeing three young rookies gain experience in their first international matches playing against the world’s best, and having goalkeeper David Carter named best in the men’s tournament.
(There were six South Asians on the team: rookies Iqwinder Gill of Surrey and Harbir Sidhu of Victoria, and Balraj Panesar of Surrey, Brandon Pereira of Surrey, Keegan Pereira of Ajax (Ontario), and Sukhi Panesar of Surrey.)
Argentina came out strong in the first half, forcing Carter to make numerous high pressure saves. But a turnover in the fourth minute saw Argentina make it onto the scoreboard, capitalizing on the opportunity with a diving deflection slipping just past Carter.
“It was a really tough match for us,” Carter said following the game. “We came out a bit slow, when you’re facing a team that’s as good and as classy as Argentina – world’s number one, they were just so much sharper in their skills than us in the first quarter and we got behind the 8-ball.”
The first half saw Argentina maintain their pressure, with some fleeting chances for the Men’s National team, but mistakes on turnovers, botched penalty corners (for both teams), left it up to Carter in the back to save the team from a barrage of Argentinian shots.
In the 25th minute, Argentina managed to get one through off an incredibly quick one timer shot, with Carter having no time for a view, leaving Argentina to double their lead 2-0.
But, the second half kicked off with new vigour. Carter said that the team came out and “played with that Canadian grit that we’re known for, upped the physicality a little bit and never quit.”
So, Canada was back, playing with an amped up intensity and never say no attitude they’re more known for.
Brad Logan came out early with a deep pass going just wide of the post and Keegan Pereira worked his way into the Argentinian circle. But Argentina came back to see Carter again all over the net working for Canada’s Men to remain in the game.
As Canada was showing their strength, Argentina rose to the physical challenge and play got increasingly scrappy, escalating to a yellow card moment following an Argentinian player intentionally snatching Canadian forward Floris van Son’s stick out of his hands has he was beating him on the ball.
But, van Son wasn’t stopped by the drama of the game, and worked up and down the field both defensively and offensively for Canada’s men.
Canada made their mark on the third quarter, more the team they are known to be, and knocked on the door of world number one, Argentina, numerous times.
The fourth quarter saw an evening up of chances. Floris van Son seemed to see the majority of them for Canada, but all were deflected or denied disappointingly, by Argentinian players.
In the last two minutes of the game, Canada took the risk of pulling the man on fire, Carter, from goal for the extra attacking man. But, as the final seconds disappeared off the clock, Argentina took the 2017 Cup, and the win, 2-0.
Moving forward, Interim Head Coach Paul Bundy said the team is going to take notes from their strong third quarter. “We’re going to be a little more aggressive in the way we play. We’re not going to be on the back foot…so we’ll be looking to score goals.”
(Report: Field Hockey Canada / Photo: Yan Huckendubler/PAHF)