Photos: Yan Huckendubler
By Ali Baggott for Field Hockey Canada
Canadian skipper Scott Tupper put away two penalty corner drag flicks to seal his team’s 12th appearance in the Pan American Games final. Canada edged Chile 3-2 after Martin Rodriquez found a way to bring the game level twice.
A scoreless opening quarter was well indicative of the play. Canada edged in possession but that mostly involved ball movement around the back, while Chile patiently waited for their chances. Seconds before the first break Tupper blasted a ball towards the Chile goal. Jamie Wallace had the redirection but Chile keeper Adrian Henriquez made the save. James Kirkpatrick was there for the rebound attempt but the Chilean defence closed well to deny another shot at goal.
Canada earned their first penalty corner in the 19th minute after Brenden Bissett’s pass in to the circle came up high off Henriquez’s pads. Tupper unleashed a flick in to the top corner to lift the Canadians up 1-0.
Less than two minutes later Chile was able to respond. A baseline run down the left side resulted in the ball to popping through to the stroke mark. It bounced over Canadian defender John Smythe’s stick to a waiting Rodriguez who buried the ball low past keeper David Carter. The game remained level 1-1 at half time.
Chile put on all kinds of pressure in the second half with Felipe Renz getting two attempts towards goal but with no success. Momentum favoured Chile as Canada’s Kirkpatrick sat for a green card and then Iain Smythe for a yellow just four minutes apart. With Smythe off, Gordie Johnston earned Canada another penalty corner. Tupper executed the flick that was saved well by Henriquez but Johnston was there to flip the ball high and bring Canada back up by one.
Chile never stopped pressuring up front and they were rewarded. Rodriquez deflected a pass from Amoroso in to the Canadian goal in the 54th minute to shock the Canadians but send a roaring Chilean fan base in to fits.
In a thrilling finish to the quarter Canada charged back in to the Chile circle and forward Mark Pearson asked for a video referral for a foot foul. Canada won the referral and Tupper provided the heroics to bring Canada ahead once again, 3-2.
Chile pulled their keeper with less than a minute on the clock but the Canadians were able to hang on for the win and book themselves a spot in the final. This will be the first time since 1991 that the Canadian men and women are in the Pan American Games final and both playing Argentina.
The game also had several milestones for those on the pitch including the 100th international and FIH Golden Whistle nod for USA umpire Gus Soteriades. For Chile, Ricardo Achondo played his 150th match, while Canadian forward Iain Smythe stepped on the pitch for his 200th match.