PHOTO: Canadian defender Karli Johansen on the offence versus Argentina in the 2017 Pan American Semi Finals.
Argentina, ranked 3rd in the world, handed Canada’s Women their first loss at the 2017 Pan American Cup today, sending Canada to play in the bronze medal match.
The starting whistle saw Canada’s Women come out strong. The team held possession of the ball for the first few minutes and saw some early chances. Rachel Donohoe engineered Canada’s first opportunity, sending a strong backhand dangerously across the Argentinian goal, but her teammates were just out of reach and unable to get a touch.
It was Argentina who lit up the scoreboard first with a goal in the 6th minute, beating Canadian goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams on a redirect from a backhand to put Argentina up 1-0 over Canada.
Canadian goalkeeper Williams and her defence came up big in the following minutes to stop any additional Argentinian chances, including Alison Lee who stepped up to interrupt what looked to be a sure goal that slipped between the legs of Williams just before the goal line in the 11th minute.
In the second quarter, Argentina come out dominating most of the play, pressing on their fore-check, and not allowing any opportunity for Canada to look for a connecting pass up the field. The pressure kept Canada playing defensively in their own end.
Canadian goalkeeper Williams and the team’s defence showed great work to deny Argentina’s chances, but the team managed to convert a penalty corner drag flick left and low to increase their lead over Canada 2-0 going into halftime.
The second half was characterized by continued Argentina pressure up front, and Canada just not getting numbers in the circle. Canadian defender Danielle Hennig made a couple notable saves off the post on penalty corners, but Argentina was able to hit the left corner of the goal again, to raise their lead over Canada 3-0.
As Canada fought back on their counter attack in the 37th minute, they were awarded their first penalty corner of the game as the umpires sought to calm the increasingly physical play. Karli Johansen took the drag flick and found the lower left corner of the net to ensure it was a two goal game again.
Veteran defender Hennig says this never-say-die mentality is unique to the Canadian team. “I think we go into every game believing that we can win…we have a bit of quiet confidence.”
Referencing previous games at the 2017 Pan Am Cup, Hennig went on to add, “I think we showed some of how we can play, in the U.S. game. Even today, there were periods when we put pressure on Argentina.” Hennig concluded, “we’re getting there and we know that we’re really close. We were hoping it was going to be today, and it’s just unfortunate it wasn’t.”
Challenging higher ranking teams isn’t something that has been, or is, out of reach for the Canadian Women. In fact, they’ve done it time and time again, especially as of late. Most recently, they drew against world ranked number four, team USA, in pool play of the Pan Am Cup, breaking a 26 game, 12-year USA winning streak.
In addition, Canada’s Women have seen recent wins over India and Korea breaking near 20 year winning streaks for each team, and forced a draw with England, currently ranked 2nd in the world, in 2014.
This is a team that’s going places, and they know it.
“We’re going to keep that confidence going and know that whatever opponent we play, if we bring our best game we can compete with anyone, and we can win any game,” asserts Hennig, “and that’s what we’re going to do in the bronze medal game.”
You can catch Canada’s Women confidently take a rematch with the United States in the bronze medal game in what’s guaranteed to be a thriller – August 13th at 1:00pm PT/4:00pm ET.
For the Women’s full schedule, click here.
To view the games live, follow the stream here.