Field Hockey Canada > Canada set for Youth Olympics semifinal after shootout win over Pakistan

Heading into the Youth Olympic Games most teams targetted the quarterfinal as the most pivotal match.

With so many skilled teams at the tournament, each quarterfinal was likely going to be a matchup of two highly qualified and capable teams.

One team would be going through to the tournament semifinal and would have a chance for Olympic medal, and the others chances for medalling would be gone.

Canada’s Under-18 men’s team had a clear goal of winning a medal at these games, so its quarterfinal matchup with Pakistan on Saturday was  its most important game of the tournament thus far. And accordingly, the Canadians came out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

Goals from Amrit Sidhu and Vikram Sandhu put Canada ahead 2-0 after only six minutes of play. Pakistan responded with a goal of their own but the Canadians pushed back even harder, with Sidhu’s second of the game and two consecutive goals from Brandon Pereira. Canada led 5-1.

“We started strongly and went out to an early lead in the first period controlling play for the most part,” says team manager Scott Sandison. “Pakistan had been in a similar situation 2 days prior against New Zealand and came back to tie that match so we knew what they were capable of.”

With only fourteen minutes to go in the match, the lead seemed insurmountable, but the importance of the match weighed heavily and Pakistan were able to claw back into the game. 

Three straight goals made it a 5-4. Canada went up 6-4 in the third period on a goal from Harbir Sidhu but Pakistan scored two straight to tie the game at 6.

With one minute left in the match, Harbir Sidhu scored again on a fantastic backhand and many thought it was the winner. But it wasn’t.

Only twenty seconds later, Pakistan’s Muhammad Atiq tied the game and sent it to a shootout.

After having given away two leads late in the game, the Canadian psyche could very well have been damaged, but the coaching staff and the players alike did a wonderful job at regrouping prior to the penalty shots.

After three shots, the shootout was tied at a two. The shots went into sudden death and that’s where Canada prevailed.

A goal from Vikram Sandhu and a save from Liam Manning propelled Canada to victory and a spot in the semifinal on Monday versus Spain.

“Our Canadian team showed great resilience and continued their fight to win the match,” adds Sandison.

For the full game sheet, click here.

It’s a match that will undoubtedly go a long way for the confidence of the Canadians in this tournament, as they look to try and capture a medal, but also for the future of the National Program, as the experience in such a tight match at an Olympic Games – in which adversity was a huge factor – is invaluable.

In Spain, Canada faces a familiar foe. The two teams clashed in the pool stage, with the match staying close until the third period when the Spanish were able to able to break away for the 6-3 victory.

It’s a match at whichthe Canadians would surely like a second go, which they’ll get on Monday morning.

The semifinal with Spain gets going at 6:00pm local time (3:00am PST/6:00am EST). The winner faces the winner of the Australia-South Africa semifinal in the gold medal match on Wednesday.

For Canada’s full schedule and results, click here.