PHOTO: Forward Rachel Donohoe celebrates following her deflection goal that tied up the game 1-1 vs the United States in the 2017 Pan American Cup.
The North American turf war between Canada and the United States for top team in Pool B of the 2017 Pan American Cup was an intensely fought, exciting matchup. The Women’s National, ranked 19th in the world tied Team USA 1-1, who are ranked 4th, in an electrifying tilt.
But, forward Brienne Stairs said the team was a little shaky out of the gates. “We had a bit of nerves at the beginning of the game,” Stairs revealed, “and the U.S.A. is such a strong team, so we just wanted to come out here and compete and play our game and have some fun.”
Those nerves may have let the United States, already qualified for the 2018 World Cup Final, to pick up a goal in the first minute of play off an early penalty corner.
From there on out, the chances for the first half were very much back and forth as both teams earned penalty corner opportunities and green card advantages, but neither team was able to capitalize.
The closest call for Canada came from Hannah Haughn as a wild ball came off the post and had American goalkeeper falter. Haughn dove for the post’s backhand rebound, but the attempt was blocked by an apt U.S. defender.
Canada came out of halftime a different team – more confident, more aggressive. Stairs worked her way into the circle with some solid stick work, but the umpires missed her earning a U.S.A. foot and stopped play, initially calling it against her.
After a cry of disagreements, the umpires met for a referral to conclude that Canada was in fact, deserving of a penalty corner.
That call would come down to the call of the game as Rachel Donohoe swept the ball Stairs for a deflection that tied up the match 1-1.
The physicality from both teams began to ramp up as the last 20 minutes of play ticked on, and Canada and the United States women found themselves shoulder to shoulder on every ball.
With six minutes to go in the game, Brienne Stairs was awarded a yellow card – a five-minute infraction, as a sense of desperation seeped into the game. Both teams were scrambling to take the lead.
Karli Johansen, who fell into a tackle, was awarded a green card and sent off, with team USA taking the penalty corner. Before the ball was swept out, team captain Kate Wright referred with the umpires about the series of calls, but was sent off the field with a yellow card of her own.
Canada, now down three players with four minutes to go, dug in their heels. They warded off two back to back corner calls and multiple US chances. Defender Sara Macmanus made a huge tackle in the last 10 seconds of the game to deny the US a circle entry, and rocketed the ball up the field to smartly run down the clock to ensure the Canadians kept the 1-1 draw.
Coming out of the match, the women were proud of their performance, but realistic.
“We came in with a really strong game plan,” forward Rachel Donohoe said. “We did a lot of video, a lot of analysis. We stuck to the game plan and it panned out for us, so it’s quite exciting.” Donohoe went on to add “this is just the beginning, we’re not going to stop, we’re going keep being relentless.”
Teammate Stairs echoed her tenacious sentiments. “I mean it’s a pretty great feeling – it was good to have a bit of success here today. But it’s just one game, so we have to recover well and get ready for out next one against Mexico.”
The women face Mexico, who the US already beat 6-0, in their last pool play match up Wednesday August 9th at 2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET.
For the Women’s full schedule, click here.
To view the games live, follow the stream here.