With an exciting 4 – 3 victory over Argentina, the Canadian Men’s Junior National Team remains undefeated in Chile. This is a big win for Canada as Argentina has been the reigning Junior Pan American Champion since 1978.
“Argentina was the strong team we expected,” says Head Coach Mathias Ahrens. “We struggled in the first half; hesitating and not playing the ball forward. Argentina had two strong minutes and we gave away two goals. They scored a field goal in the 16th minute and converted on a penalty corner in the 19th.”
Down 0 – 2 at half time, the men took time to refocus on coming out strong in the second half. They would need to step up their defence and really push offensively.
“We really turned the game around in the second half, quickly evening the score to 2 – 2,” says Ahrens.
Paul Wharton (Vancouver) scored the first goal for Canada off of a penalty corner in the 41st minute. Four minutes later, Ali Currimbhoy (Burnaby, BC) scored a field goal. Argentina immediately responded by scoring within three minutes, re-establishing their lead.
After this the game was wide open. Canada worked hard to create scoring opportunities while Argentina really pushed in the D. In the 62nd minute Canada was awarded a penalty corner. Adrien d’Andrade (Coquitlam, BC) scored from the top of the D to once again even the score.
“The game was still open at this point,” says Ahrens. “On a left side counter attack, we had a beautiful play over the baseline into the D.”
Matthew Sarmento (Vancouver) took a solid shot that was on its way into the back of the net. The goal was secured after the ball was deflected in off the body of an opponent – raising the score to 4 – 3 for Canada.
“I am very happy the boys stuck to the goals they set for this match,” says Ahrens. “They came out strong in the second half – it was fantastic to see. I’m very proud of them.”
“This is a great victory for our team,” says Taylor Curran (North Vancouver). “We didn’t play our best game, but we were able to sort out some of the problems in the second half. It was encouraging to win against Argentina. They are a strong team, but we are also a strong team. During our time in Chile we’ve been taking good steps forward. We are playing better and becoming stronger as a group.”
This was the Junior Men’s 6th match in Chile. They will compete in three more matches – two against Chile and one against Argentina.
“We need to keep our heads in the game,” says Ahrens. “Our goal is to win each match. Argentina is an extremely strong side – and I expect they will come out very strong in our next match. The next encounter with Argentina will show us where we still have to grow.”
Coming into this tour, the young Canadian side was eager to see how they would measure up in the international arena. So far this team has proven their ability to defeat the top two Junior Pan American Teams. Argentina remains undefeated at the Junior Pan American Championships while Chile has finished close behind in second since 2000. Canada will be looking to change that at the upcoming Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico this September.
The next match is tomorrow at 4:00pm against Chile.