Field Hockey Canada > Canada advances to Junior Pan Am semifinal with win over Trinidad and Tobago

Canada advances to Junior Pan Am semifinal with win over Trinidad and Tobago

PHOTO: Canada’s Johnny Gill, Brandon Pereira, and Satbir Brar celebrate in Canada’s 3-2 win over Trinidad and Tobago on May 25 at the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto (Photo: Yan Huckendubler)

May 25, 2016 | Shaheed Devji |

Canada’s Under-21 Men’s National Team is one win away from Junior World Cup qualification after a 3-2 quarterfinal win over Trinidad and Tobago Wednesday at the Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto.

The Canadian men advance to the tournament semifinal against Chile on Friday (2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET). The winner of that semifinal earns a spot at the 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup in India later this year.

Thomson Harris scored the game winner in the 52nd minute on a setup by Shahbaaz Dhaliwal.

While Canada never trailed in the match, the game went back and forth with both teams generating offense from start-to-finish.

“The game is not going to be given to us, we’ve got to stay focused for 70 minutes,” says Canadian forward Rohan Chopra, who opened the scoring in the 13th minute. “And when it does dip, we’ve got to find a way to bounce back. Whether that takes us one minute or 50 minutes.”

Both teams managed a circle entry in the first few minutes, but neither was able to generate a scoring chance in the area or draw a penalty corner.

The Trinidadians were first to carry the play with a majority of possession in the first ten minutes, but strong defensive plays from Ganga Singh and Brandon Pereira helped Canada get away unscathed.

Canada then went on the offensive, generating multiple scoring chances which narrowly missed.

In the 11th minute, Kabir Aujla got behind the Trinidad and Tobago defenders and had a clean shot on goal that was stopped by keeper Cheon Steele.

A minute later, Amrit Sidhu unleashed a wicked backhand but his shot went wide.

Canada was able to convert in the 13th minute on an impressive individual effort from Chopra, who controlled the ball along the baseline, went around Steele and potted the ball into the top corner while falling to give Canada the game’s first goal.

Minutes later, the Canadians had a chance to add to the lead when Harris found Dhaliwal at the top of the circle and Dhaliwal let go a backhand that just missed.

With hot weather in Toronto, the game featured breaks around the quarter marks and at the first stoppage, Canada led 1-0.

The break helped Trindad gain its bearings after the Canadian pressure, and in the 21st minute Tariq Marcano scored on a quick hit from the top of the Canadian circle.

While Trinidad overcame two deficits in the match, Canada was also able to bounce back both times the Trinidadians tied.

In the 33rd minute, Brandon Pereira continued his dominance on the penalty corner as he put a high, hard flick into the top right corner of the net to re-establish Canada’s lead before half-time.

Trinidad tied early in the second half on a corner that went through the legs of keeper Iqwinder Gill, but the Canadians were not phased and immediately went back on the attack.

A spell of possession and two corners later, Dhaliwal and Harris connected for a field goal in the 52nd minute. Dhaliwal ran up the sidelines, into the circle and fed Harris who – while sliding – redirected the ball into the net for the 3-2 lead.

Trinidad and Tobago were given multiple corners after going down, but the Canadian corner defense stood strong, turning away all the attempts as Canada held on for the 3-2 victory.

With the win, Canada advances to the tournament semifinal against Chile on Friday. Canada and the Chileans met during pool play, with Chile taking a 2-1 win.

The other semifinal sees Argentina take on the United States.

Canada’s semifinal match can be watched live online Friday at 2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET.

Post-game interview with Rohan Chopra: