PHOTO: In game 2 of the 2017 Pan American Cup, Sukhpal Panesar stick handles through Brazilian defence.
The Men’s National team battled it out with Brazil today to earn their second victory within pool play of the 2017 Pan American Cup. The last time these two teams matched up was at the Pan Am Games Semi-Final, going into a 0-0 shootout, so the men were expecting Brazil to be a tough match up.
“[Brazil] has improved a lot,” forward Gordon Johnston stated, “and especially since Rio they’ve gained a lot of experience and you can see that in the way they’re playing.”
Teammate Keegan Pereira echoed his teammate’s sentiments. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and we’re pretty happy with 2-0,” Pereira added.
As the first whistle was blown, both teams launched immediately into a high tempo game. Canada and Brazil got their first touches in, with a little back and forth action. Canada maintained most of the ball possession with fast ball movement through their defence, as Brazil forwards held high in their forecheck to keep Canada situated mainly along the midfield.
Johnston said ball possession was part of the team’s strategy heading into today’s match up.
“From the get-go we said we wanted to possess the ball today. And I think we did that in the first half.”
Up until the 3rd quarter, the game was characteristically tight. Both teams had bursts of opportunities, but things seemed to open up in the 35th minute as Brenden Bissett smacked back to back open shots on net, testing Brazil’s goalkeeper, who denied any goal. The momentum was moving in favour Canada after the team was a awarded a penalty corner for a foot in the circle and forward Floris van Son was able to bury a rebound off the flick to open up the scoreboard 1-0 for Canada.
A series of short corner opportunities saw Johnston’s and team captain Scott Tupper’s drag flicks deflect high away from the goal. In the 4th quarter, goalkeeper David Carter came out big with back to back saves to calmly clear any chance Brazil had in front of the net, out of harms way.
Veteran forward Pereira found himself driving along the baseline with some more sneaky stick skills, and found the back of the net to bring the Men up to lead 2-0 in the 51st minute. When the final whistle blew, Canada clinched the tight match up 2-0.
Although the game was low scoring, Johnston said the team’s focus on maintaining possession of the ball what what eventually saw the game swing in their favour.
“A lot of our possession didn’t get goals, but I think we did a lot of good things, and got a lot of opportunities, and we did what we wanted to do.” Johnston added, “in the end we broke them down.”
Moving forward, the Men’s National team faces Mexico next on Tuesday August 8th at 2pm PT/5pm ET in final pool play before Semi-Final match ups.
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