Feature photos/Oscar Munoz Badilla
It was sweet revenge on the pitch today for the Red Caribou as they avenged their pool-play loss to USA and claimed the Pan American Bronze Medal.
The game didn’t start to plan as USA cracked the code off a penalty corner in the 17th minute. Jack Heldons, who was USA’s best player all game, hit in a penalty corner rebound to give USA the lead 1-0 at the half.
Canada came out firing after the half, controlling possession and driving the attacking pace. In the 34th minute, Balraj Panesar stick handled into the circle, evading a handful of USA defenders and fed a cross-crease pass to Fin Boothroyd who trapped it and smashed it into the net. The goal set off an emotional release that led to two more third quarter goals for the Red Caribou.
Gordon Johnston, the tournament’s leading goal scorer, cashed his own penalty corner rebound and Matt Barnett added the insurance goal by tipping in a centering pass. The three goals in quick succession led Canada to a final score 3-1 win over their rivals to the south. Johnston, who was wearing the captain band in today’s game said he was proud at how the team battled after a slow start.
“We just didn’t have our feet under us, we got off to a slow start,” he said. “The second half was a great response and we showed a lot of growth and started to play well, we put them under pressure and we put some balls in the back of the net.”
Canada defeats USA for Pan Am bronze in Santiago, Chile. Photos/Oscar Munoz Badilla.
It was a fitting way for Johnston to celebrate his 28th birthday. The tournament all-star and leading goal scorer was a rock for Canada the entire tournament-long. For him, he said the game took an emotional turn in the third and he was proud at how his team handled the pressure down the stretch.
“We really wanted that redemption from USA beating us in pool-play,” he said. “You could feel the emotion releasing in the third when we started to play well and score. The guys showed so much fight and grit today and I’m so proud at how hard we were pushing to get the result today.”
The goal of World Cup qualification was no longer on the table for either team today, but the bronze medal and a chance to end the tournament on a win was enough for both teams to battle to the final whistle. Boothroyd, who scored Canada’s opening goal in the third quarter, said he’s proud at how the team together to finish the tournament on a high note.
“I know our ultimate goal was to qualify, but we didn’t do that. We were excited to come out of today with a win,” he said in a post-game field side interview. “It’s great to end the tournament with a win, especially against the US.”
Johnston echoed Boothroyd’s sentiment and added that in order to capitalize off the learnings from this event, they need to commit to the domestic training and building this program up to the next events.
“I think we all felt like we let an opportunity slip by; we didn’t play well enough to get that World Cup ticket,” he said. “But we have a lot of new faces playing really well and developing that experience at this level. We have to keep the momentum up moving forward in our training environment. We have a lot to look forward to this year, we have to keep our program supported and keep our sights on the next event.”
The team will power down for a few weeks upon return to Canada then activate to start preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The tournament will take place at the end of July in Birmingham, UK.
On-field celebrations following Canada’s bronze medal victory. Photos/Oscar Munoz Badilla
Our national teams are able to compete at the 2022 Pan American Cup thanks to the generous support from our sponsors. Thank you to our apparel partner, Indian Maharadja, our equipment supplier, Gryphon Hockey, and our club partners, West Vancouver FHC and Tamanawis Field Hockey Society, for supporting the Red Caribou and Wolf Pack!
For more information on how you can sponsor or partner with us, please visit this link.
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