Saturday was Canada’s day in Montevideo, Uruguay as the Canadian men and women’s indoor national teams won double gold, sweeping the finals at the Indoor Pan American Cup, both earning a spot at the 2015 Indoor World Cup in Germany next February.
In performances they won’t soon forget, the women defeated international hockey powerhouse Argentina 3-1 and the men beat their neighbours from the south, the United States, 4-2.
“We’re really happy with how things went this entire tournament,” said women’s co-captain Anna Easty (Toronto, Ont.). “We focused on one game at a time and we stuck to our game plan. It feels amazing to win this as a team, we’ve come so far and we are excited for the road ahead.”
Women beat Argentina for Pan Am Cup title
Two fired up teams walked onto the court for the Saturday’s final, with Argentina seeking revenge after a 10-0 loss at the hands of the Canadians in the first game of the round robin.
It was Argentina who got the ball rolling in the first half scoring on a penalty corner in the seventh minute. Juliana Rios had a great individual effort, forcing her way into the Canadian circle before being tripped and earning the corner. Rios was the one to receive the ball on the injection and fired a shot by Canadian keeper Kathryn Williams (Burlington, Ont.) to make it 1-0 Argentina.
From there, however, Canada was calmly in charge and gave their reply four minutes later when Alison Lee (Mississauga, Ont.) also slid one in off a penalty corner. Her fourth of the tournament tied the game at 1. Lee finished the tournament second in goal scoring to Uruguay’s Isabel Olaso.
Williams made it tough for the Argentinians all game, turning away a number of chances. Rios had two more wonderful opportunities to score and give the Argentinians the lead late in the half, but saves off the initial shot and rebound kept the game tied.
The teams went into half at even 1-1.
In the second half Canada demonstrated their composure and held possession for most of the half. Early on, Amanda Woodcroft (Waterloo, Ont.) took the ball into the circle and fed Madison Thompson (Waterloo, Ont.). Both women battled for the ball and earned a penalty corner. The first corner resulted in two more consecutive set pieces, the final one being a penalty shot.
Thompson stepped up to the spot and netted the goal with ease, giving Canada the 2-1 lead in the twenty-seventh minute. Thompson went two-for-two from the stroke spot in the tournament, and also finished with four goals.
The Canadians continued to take every advantage of the penalty opportunities they were given as in the thirty-fourth minute, co-captain Kri Shier (North Vancouver, B.C.) showed her prowess as a penalty corner specialist, thundering one in off the backboard to make it 3-1.
“The girls really came out to play today and they came out not wanting to leave the court without a win,” said women’s coach John De Souza. “They have worked extremely hard and made a lot of sacrifices in order to get to this moment. I am really proud of what they have come here and achieved and we are very excited about the opportunity to play in the World Cup.”
The women went 2-0-1 in the tournament round-robin before beating the U.S. and Argentina in the playoffs en route to gold. They tallied a total of twenty goals and earned three shutouts.
Woodcroft was named the women’s player of the tournament.
“We are all so excited, we have worked extremely hard to get where we are and we wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Woodcroft. “It is a huge honour to be named the tournament MVP, and I could not have done it without all my teammates, coaches and supporters.”
Canadian men defeat cross-border rival United States and are crowned champs
In the all North American final, the Canadian men defeated the United States 4-2.
Just seconds into the match, Canadian veteran Ken Pereira (Unionville, Ont.) had a chance to give Canada the earlty lead going in alone but was stopped in close by American keeper Kevin Segeren.
The first half was mainly controlled by Canada. Jeewanjot Bath (Brampton, Ont.) gave the crowd its first taste of scoring in the sixth minute after a great steal, a wonderful move around an American defender and a fantastic finish by throwing a reverse flick into the net.
The States had several opportunities to respond, but they were denied by Canadian keeper Shankar Premakanthan (Scarborough, Ont.). The highlight was a diving save of a U.S. penalty corner. Premakanthan, in three games during the tournament, only let in three goals.
In the fourteenth minute, it was Periera, who was later named men’s player of the tournament, gave Canada their second goal when he took Segeren all the way to the left corner of the circle and then sent a smooth reverse ball into the backboards. Pereira had four goals in the tournament.
The United States came out firing in the second and slotted one in the twenty-first minute.
A quick pass to the top of the cirlce found Sebastian Shuerer all alone. His shot beat Premakanthan and the States cut the lead in half to 2-1.
The teams then went back and forth as Micah Teixeira (Mississauga, Ont.) pushed Canada’s lead back to two after sending a bullet in off a penalty corner in the thirty-second minute.
But the U.S. was not going to go down without a fight and replied with another goal bringing the game to 3-2. Moritz Runzi finished a nice passing play, beating Premakanthan, who had no chance, and making it a one goal game with only a few minutes to go.
But in the last minute of play with the American goalie pulled, Canada earned a penalty corner and Jonathan Roberts (Stoney Creek, Ont.), who has led Canada offensively from the first game of the tournament, made no mistake by beating the U.S. keeper for the insurance marker. Roberts was the highest scoring Canadian, with five goals in the tournament, and finished fourth overal.
The men notched a total twenty-one goals and only allowed an impressive three goals against.
“It looked like we were in control but there were some exciting moments,” said men’s head coach Louis Mendonca. “I think in competition everybody comes to compete. We had some injuries with a few key players but the rest of the guys really stepped up.”
Written with files from Carla Johl.