If there was ever a question of whether history has a tendency of repeating itself, one need only look as far as the Pan American Games field hockey final. With Canada’s men’s field hockey team beating Brazi in a shootout (0-0 [5-3]) in Thursday’s semifinal, the Canadians will face Argentina in the tournament final for the eleventh straight year.
With the win, Canada officially qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But it wasn’t an easy task.
After coming off a solid 3-0 quarterfinal win over Trinidad and Tobago, Canada seemed to be in a comfortable place facing off against Brazil in the semifinals.
Coming into the match, now ranked 13th in the world, Canada knew a victory on home soil would guarantee their spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics next August and a place in Saturday’s final.
Canada’s 9-1 win over Brazil in the tournament’s opener would not end up being indicator of how this match would play out. Within moments of the opening quarter it became apparent that this game would be closer than predicted.
It was actually Brazil that got the first shot on goal, forcing goalkeeper David Carter to make a left pad save early.
Canada responded immediately and from then on would control the majoirty of possession.
The Canadians forayed often into the Brazilian end and put many balls through the Brazilian circle, but despite several good build-ups, they couldn’t manage a goal.
Canada’s best chances in the first half came off the sticks of Matthew Guest and Gabriel Ho-Garcia.
Guest was able to fire a high and hard shot at the Brazilian keeper Rodrigo Faustino, who batted the shot away with the blocker in the thirteenth minute.
Ho-Garcia followed that up in the twenty-fifth minute with a reverse shot from the top of the circle, but Faustino squeezed the pads and kept it out, keeping the game scoreless at half-time.
In the second, Canada continued to press but without reward. The final two quarters were highlighted by two Canadian penalty corners resulting in two unsuccessful drag flicks from Scott Tupper.
The game needed a shootout to be solved and Canada – which has had recent history in big shootouts – seemed comfortable, despite the pressure on home soil.
Both teams scored on their first two attempts. Canada’s Mark Pearson and Devohn Noronha-Teixeira converted, before Sukhi Panesar scored their third. Gordon Johnston also scored for Canada.
Brazil, however, was thwarted on its third shot after David Carter made a sprawling left toe save.
That save would set up Adam Froese, who was scored two shootout winners in the last 18 months, for the shot to win.
Froese took his time before flipping the ball high past Faustino, giving Canada the win, a spot in the tournament final and a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.