In a thrilling 49th parallel showdown at the Pan American Games, Canada’s Men’s National Team displayed sheer grit and determination as they rallied back from an early 1-0 deficit to secure a crucial 2-1 victory against the USA. The Red Caribou showcased their mettle and resilience on the field, clawing back from 1-0 and controlling the final three quarters of play.
The clash started with the USA on the front foot, securing several early chances and notching a goal of a penalty corner set from Aki Kaeppeler. However, Canada’s goalkeeper, Ethan McTavish, kept Canada in the game, making clutch saves and ensuring that the scoreline remained at 1-0 throughout the first 25 minutes. Canada’s steadfast defense played a pivotal role in keeping the game within reach, while the attackers gained their footing.
As the first half progressed, Canada found their rhythm and began to exert control over the game. The turning point came just before halftime when Floris van Son elegantly finished a three-way passing play involving Gordon Johnston and Thomson Harris, leveling the score. The goal came at the perfect moment, changing the momentum of the game.
The third quarter witnessed Canada’s dominance, attacking the USA goal with a barrage of chances. Team captain, Gordon Johnston, who was playing in his 200th CAP for Team Canada, buried a clutch penalty corner set piece, which wound up being the difference in the game. After the match, Johnston said he was proud to score on a milestone afternoon, but said it’s a team win and one they can build off moving forward.
“I thought we were hyper focused today. We did a really good job executing the game plan and I really liked our defensive energy, Johnston said. He added that scoring a goal and getting a win on a milestone day was a special feeling. “It felt really good. 200 games is a lot and there have been some special moments along the way, and this one is right up there with them. It’s always nice to be able to contribute. The guys did well to create that opportunity and to be able to convert in a moment like that was really special. It was an important moment in the game for us to convert.”
Canada’s structured play and relentless pressure kept the USA at bay in the fourth quarter. In the dying moments of the game, Keegan Pereira’s picture-perfect aerial pass into the circle was expertly handled by Oliver Scholfield, earning Canada a stroke. Gordon Johnston stepped up for the crucial penalty, but Klages once again showed his prowess in the USA net, keeping the USA alive.
Nonetheless, Canada maintained their composure, executed vital defensive clearances, and sealed the game. Johnston, celebrating his 200th match for Team Canada, emerged as the match MVP for his exceptional performance on both ends of the field. With this crucial victory, Canada’s fans have every reason to be proud of their team’s resilience and determination on the path to the top of the Pan American Games podium. Canada takes on Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday to close out group stage. A win in that game assures them top spot in pool B.
Canada defeats USA 2-1 at the 2023 Pan American Games. Photos/Yan Huckendubler
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