Canada – USA: 2 - 2
The first morning game started under dark menacing clouds and the stadium lights needed to be turned on. It was a lively encounter between the two North American rivals, with neither team managing to establish some lasting control in the first half. Canada had a couple early opportunities by Connor Grimes, but his powerful reverse stick shots were not on target.
The game went back and forth in an entertaining way, with both teams creating dangerous opportunities but missing their chances. It was Canada that went first on the scoreboard with a direct hit from Wayne Fernandez on a penalty-corner. Canada tried to settle down their defense, but was pushed back by the very decided American forwards. The USA were rewarded with a goal on penalty corner by Jarred Martin in the 33rd minute and narrowly missed scoring another one in the dying seconds of the game.
The second half was played on a high tempo, with the Americans pushing hard and creating permanent difficulty for the Canadian defense, unsettled by an injury to its anchor Paul Wettlaufer. Canada nevertheless scored a second penalty-corner, against the flow of play, but the Canadians could not control the ball to maintain the result and were constantly on their heels for the end of the game.
Pat Harris was prompt to exploit a defensive give-away to slot the ball past the Canadian keeper with a masterful reverse-stick shot and Canada, under intense pressure in the final minutes, was lucky to escape with a draw 2-2.
Netherlands Antilles – Chile: 1 - 2
Chile caught the Netherlands Antilles off guard, scoring a quick field goal (4th minute), and then maintained their pressure for most of the half. The Dutch Antilles defense held tight, but they could not mount any meaningful attacks and it is only at the end of the period that the Chilean goal-keeper saw some action.
The pattern changed radically in the second half, with the Dutch Antilles playing a much more aggressive hockey and pushing back the Chilean. Chile seemed content to weather the storm but, with the Dutch Antilles pressure mounting, they were reduced to ten players and Sjors Hop tied the score. With Ivo Elsenaar and Gijs Hardeman creating permanent havoc in front of the Chilean goal, the Dutch Antilles were close to take the advantage when they earned a penalty-corner, but they could not take advantage of it.
On the counter-attack that followed, Christobal Rodriguez got the ball behind the Dutch Antilles defense and avoided the confusion in front of the goal to deliver the final punch, scoring a goal that gave the victory and a berth in the semi-final to Chile.
Argentina – Cuba: 4 - 0
Cuba nearly stunned the Pan American champions by winning an early penalty-corner, but could not capitalize on it. Rodrigo Vila on the other hand didn’t miss the chance to open the scoring for Argentina with a reverse stick shot in the 11th minute.
Argentina kept a strict defensive structure, occupying all the space and leaving no room for the Cubans to develop their trademark running game. Argentina controlled most of the play but was nevertheless still within striking distance and the Cubans came dangerously close to tie the game in multiple occasions.
Cuba tried to use long aerial balls to find Yoandy Blanco, but he was kept under tight surveillance. Finally, a good run by Lucas Rey found Pedro Ibarra on the post and he made no mistake to roof the ball to give some welcome breathing space to his team. He added a penalty-corner with ten minutes to go. With no chance to come back in the game, the Cuban intensity diminished and the game ended on the final score of 4-0, formally opening the door of the semi-final for Argentina.
Brazil – Trinidad & Tobago: 1 - 8
Brazil went down one goal early in the game, but was cheerfully encouraged by a boisterous local crowd with all matters of noise makers, chanting and flag waving. The place was nearly brought down when William Alba equalized on a penalty-corner in the 20th minute, triggering wild celebrations on the field and in the stands.
In front of this unconventional opponent, T&T seemed to have trouble grabbing control of the play. The game was wide open and a Brazilian forward had a solitary breakaway, but his shot was prevented at the last second by a desperate run back by Nicolas Wren.
T&T finally slotted a penalty-corner in the 32nd minute, starting celebrations from the Caribbean fans keen to show to the local crowd that they also know a thing or two when it comes to atmosphere!
With Kwan Browne back in his usual midfield position, from where he can mastermind the play of his team, the play settled down and T&T was quickly up 4-1, dampening the enthusiasm of the Brazilian players and of the crowd. With the win (final score 8-1), Trinidad & Tobago also advances to the semi-finals.
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