There was not a lot to choose from between Canada and Chile in the women’s bronze medal match at the 2015 Pan American Games.
The two teams were ranked within two spots of each other in the world rankings, Canada twentieth and Chile twenty-second. They both lost to Argentina and the United States and they both only let in nine goals prior to the final match.
But only one team was playing on home soil, and in the end that was the difference. Hometown girl – Kitchener’s Brienne Stairs – scored the game winner, giving Canada the 1-0 win and the Pan American Bronze medal.
It’s the first time Canada has medaled at the Pan Am Games since 1999 in Winnipeg when it also won bronze.
The game was evenly matched throughout, with both teams having spurts of possession and multiple chances to score.
The teams traded penalty corners in the first quarter, with neither ablet to convert.
It was much of the same in the second quarter, with both teams pressuring the other’s defense and getting the ball around each other’s goal but no real prime scoring chances to claim.
Canada was able to earn mutiple penalty corners, but the Chilean defense did well to get in front of flicks from Dani Hennig and Karli Johansen.
On the Chilean side, Daniela Caram had two solo dashes behind the Canadian defense but both times the rushes failed to produce a shot on goal.
At the start of the second half, however, Chile had a good chance to score and forced Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams to make a great save.
Agustina Venegas snuck behind the Canadian defense and had a breakaway, but Williams – calm and collected – stood tall and took away the angle, and ended up kicking out the shot.
That seemed to give the Canadians confidence, who shut the door from that point on and began to press forward.
Canada was able to get forward through great work in the midfield from Stairs and Natalie Sourisseau who fought through the tough tackles from the Chileans.
Canada ended up earning the man advantage through those battles and it was during that time they were able to notch the game’s lone goal.
On a penalty corner, Canada faked the flick, moved the ball to Sara McManus who’s hard sweeping hit was deflected high into the top corner by Stairs.
Despite three late penalty corners from Chile – which were defended well by Canada – the goal would stand as the winner and lead Canada to the win.