Photos: Yan Huckendubler
By Ali Baggott for Field Hockey Canada
The World No. 10-ranked Canadians toppled USA 4-0 in a physical and paced game. Gordie Johnston’s pair of flicks opened the scoring for Canada, while good finishes from each of Mark Pearson and James Kirkpatrick added to the David Carter shutout.
It was inevitable that the level of pace and physicality would start right from the start in the battle of North America. The USA forwards took aggressive positioning on the experienced Canadian back line that patiently moved the ball. Pearson was the offensive spark for Canada as he picked up a pass just inside the 25 and moved his way in to the circle before being held up and earning Canada’s first corner. Canadian skipper Scott Tupper’s first attempt was blocked by the foot of USA’s Kei Kaeppeler and Canada switched it up on their second take. Johnston flicked glove side high to give Canada the 1-0 lead. The USA struggled to gain Canada’s circle despite some flashes of crafty ball movement through veteran Pat Harris and the support of Mohan Gandhi behind him.
In the 11th minute Brenden Bissett let a back-hand ripper go and a big save from USA keeper Jonathan Klages kept the Canadians at bay. The bouncing rebound allowed Canada to earn their second penalty corner and Johnston tallied in identical fashion to his first goal. A determined USA side earned their first penalty corner in the 18th minute but Kei Kaeppeler’s flick didn’t’ get enough power and Tupper was able to make the clear with ease. The game
Brandon Pereira sparked Canada’s third goal opportunity after he smashed a quick hit on his back hand to the USA stroke mark. USA defender Tom Barratt deflected the ball in to his own goalkeeper and while the two were tangled allowed Pearson to bury the ball in to the open goal. It remained 3-0 for Canada at half time.
USA had two penalty corner chances to start the third quarter but Aki Kaeppeler’s flick couldn’t beat Carter in goal for Canada. In the 38th goal Canada scored the picture-perfect free play goal. Jamie Wallace picked up a ball in the circle and selflessly paced the ball wide for a diving James Kirkpatrick to deflect with one hand for a 4-0 Canada lead.
The USA had a series of corners to start the fourth quarter but Aki Kaeppeler again couldn’t beat Carter or the speed of Bissett charging out. The Americans had a good free play chance in the 50th minute when Deegan Huisman drew Carter out of his goal along the baseline. The bouncing pass across the empty cage went off the sideline untouched.
At the final whistle the Americans had two more corner chances but once again fell short from set pieces to leave the game in the hands of Canada 4-0.
With the win Canada look on pace to top Pool B with just winless Peru left to play in pool-play. USA will battle Mexico for the second spot in the pool.