In a game that had the intensity of a playoff game on the field and in the crowd, Argentina handed the Canadian women’s field hockey team its first loss of the 2015 Pan American Games 5-0 Wednesday at the Pan Am Fields in Toronto.
After a dominant first game against the Dominican Republic on Monday, Canada faced a significant step up in the level of competition in the tournament’s top ranked team.
“It was a disappointing scoreline but I thought there were large patches of play where we played well,” says Canadian head coach Ian Rutledge. “Unfortunately we just gave away too many corners and they scored on three of them. That’s something that we can fix, for sure.”
The game was fairly level through the first half of the first quarter, with Canada seemingly comfortable facing the world’s third ranked team, and the team that be the last obstacle to Olympic qualification.
In the eighth minute, however, Argentina was finally able to breakthrough on a penalty corner as Noel Barrinuevo beat Canadan keeper Kaitlyn Williams for the game’s first goal.
The lead could have doubled shortly after if it wasn’t for a big kick save by Williams, who despite the lost looked comfortable and confident in goal from start to finish.
Argentina, however, was able to exend its lead in the second quarter. In the twenty-fourth minute, on another penalty corner, Julia Gomes was also able to find the back of the net
Canada had a chance to tie in the twenty-sixth minute on its first penalty corner of the game when a nearly perfectly placed dragflick from Danielle Hennig was turned away by a diving stick save from Belen Succi.
The save turned out to be a big one as only moments later in the twenty-ninth minute, Argentina scored for the third time on a penalty corner for the 3-0 lead. Argentina added two more before the game was out.
Despite being outscored by a fairly large margin, Canada looked at times like it was on the verge of breaking through. The Canadians generated several turnovers and quick counterattacks, but in the end we not able to convert in the final third.
“I thought we created enough field position and had some good chances with regards to terriroty,” adds Rutledge. “We were just a little impatient and there was a few critical moments which I don’t think we capitlized on. In saying that, we’re making improvements and every time we play this team we’re getting better.”
It’s a good sign, as if Canada hopes to win the tournament on home soil, they will likely have to go through Argentina in the end.
Canada will close out the round robin portion of the tournament when it faces Mexico at 7pm ET on Friday. The playoff round begins on Monday.