Canadian hockey fans had plenty to cheer about as the Women’s National Team kicked off their Pan American Games campaign with a resounding 7-1 victory over Cuba.
The action began in the third minute when Madi Thompson opened the scoring, deflecting a crossing ball from Anna Mollenhauer. This set the tone for a dominant attacking performance by the Canadian team. Chloe Walton continued to apply offensive pressure, adding her first of two goals in the first quarter, and Thora Rae sealed the first half with a clinical rebound, making it 4-0. Rae and Walton both had two goals in the match to accompany Thompson’s hat trick.
Canada’s backline, anchored by Karli Johansen, Sara McManus, and Sara Goodman, maintained defensive control, fending off a few Cuban attacks and initiating counter-attacks. Although Cuban goalkeeper Yurismakis Garcia made several remarkable saves, Canada earned four penalty corners in the first half, converting one. Walton said the performance was a strong team effort and that the team is confident looking forward.
“As a group, we’re feeling really positive and ready to take on every match. We’re full of energy and full of confidence and ready to go.”
Madi Thompson shone brightly throughout the match, not only opening the scoring but also finishing it with a beautiful penalty corner deflection into the top of the net in the 60th minute. She finished the game with a hat trick, making it her second hat trick over the past two years. According to Thompson, the team is building one game at a time and is looking forward confidently to the next match.
“These games allow us to gain some confidence. Cuba provides a style of play that we don’t see often. Being able to change our game-plan mid-game is good for us,” Thompson said. “To put the ball away is the cherry on top, but it gives us confidence to keep pushing.”
The Cuban team managed to break through Canada’s defense with a penalty stroke goal in the 54th minute off the stick of Yuraima Vera, but it was a solitary consolation in the one-sided affair.
Canada can feel strong about their thorough start to the tournament. They now look ahead to Saturday, when they’ll take on the hosts, Chile in a prime-time match under the lights. This match between the 14th ranked Chile and 15th ranked Canadians will likely determine finishing order in the pool and ultimately who will line up with the favoured Argentines in the semifinals.
Canada defeats Cuba in their first match at the Pan American Games. Photos/Yan Huckendubler
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