with files from Ali Baggott/PAHF
In a thrilling opening match of the Pan American Games field hockey competition, Team Canada displayed their quality as they triumphed over Brazil, securing a 2-0 victory. This back-and-forth showdown left Canadian hockey fans excited as their team took the first step toward the medal rounds.
Team captain Gordon Johnston set the tone early, scoring a crucial penalty corner in the 19th minute to put Canada on the scoreboard. Canada questioned a foot in the Brazilian circle and were successful on the tournament’s first video referral. Johnston’s flick was again saved, this time by Rodrigo Faustino’s pads, but James Kirkpatrick was there to give Canada’s battery another chance. There was some confusion on the trap, but Johnston pulled to his back hand and fired a shot low that ricocheted off a defender in for Canada’s 1-0 lead.
Canada takes on Brazil in the Pan Am opener in Santiago, Chile. Photos/Yan Huckendubler
The momentum continued to build when, in the 41st minute, Oliver Scholfield showcased his finesse by netting a goal with a nice finish after a quality ball from outside the circle from Matt Sarmento. Scholfield said that despite starting a little slow, the team can feel good about their performance overall.
“We knew we weren’t going to win it in the first quarter, so we played well and we stuck to our game-plan well. Scholfield expressed the significance of his goal, stating, “It came at a nice point in the match, to put it away for us.”
Ethan McTavish, the Canadian goalkeeper, played a pivotal role by keeping a clean sheet and making several nice stops on Brazilian penalty corners including a beauty stick save off a penalty corner in the dying moments of the game. He said the team is feeling good after today’s match and looking forward to the rest of the event.
“The environment is great; the guys are happy. Getting the win today has boosted our confidence and we’re looking good for the rest of the tournament,” McTavish said.
The win gives Canada a crucial three points, setting the stage for an exciting encounter with the United States, the second-seeded team in Pool B. This highly anticipated match on Friday promises to be an intense battle of the top two seeds. With their spirits high and confidence mounting, Canada will aim to maintain their winning streak and secure a spot in the semifinals.
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