Cuba - Brazil : 9 - 0
The Cuban team has been very disappointed with its results so far in this competition (losses against Argentina and Trinidad & Tobago) and didn’t show much enthusiasm for this game, where the final result was never in question. They were content to pass the ball around an overwhelmed Brazilian defense, scoring on occasion, but committing unusual technical errors and rarely displaying their brilliant individual skills.
The Brazilian players on the other hand, if they are lacking experience, are not lacking heart nor a keenness for the show, much to the liking of the local crowd for which a desperate dive or a spectacular tumble is all part of the game. They seemed indeed surprised that the Cubans didn’t celebrate their goals, probably taking their matter of fact approach for a sort of arrogance.
Cuba ended the game with 9 goals for their 41 shots, with Edelbenys Sayas scoring four. The highlight of the game was a sumptuous lob by Roberto Lemus who had spotted the advanced goalkeeper.
Argentina - Trinidad & Tobago : 7 - 1
Both teams were already qualified for the semi-finals and only their positions were at stake. Trinidad & Tobago played along the same partition as Chile against the Argentinean women, believing in their chances to indeed win the contest and playing positive hockey. They maintained a good structure all along and kept the Argentinean forwards at bay until the 32nd minute, when Jorge Lombi finally broke the deadlock with a penalty-corner.
Argentina went up 2-0 in the second period but T&T reacted immediately and scored a great field goal by Attiba Whittington, indeed the first goal scored against Argentina in this competition.
The end of the period belonged entirely to Argentina, although the Trinidadian players never let their guard down. Argentina finally scored 7 goals, with Jorge Lombi adding 3 to his personal total.
USA - Netherlands Antilles : 1 - 2
This game promised to be interesting, with the Netherlands Antilles wanting to redeem themselves after two hard games lost against Canada and Chile, while the USA could still qualify for the semi-finals with a win combined with a Canadian loss in the later game.
The Dutch Antilles were quicker in the saddle and scored a field goal in the 3rd minute by Gijs Hardeman, but the Americans answered promptly by Jon Ginolfi, also with a field goal. The play then settled down, with the USA controlling most of it and the Netherlands Antilles, true to style, maintaining their defensive structure and patiently weathering the storm. With the Dutch Antilles’ circle under constant siege, it seemed only a matter of time for a goal to come, but the Americans were not successful, even on a series of three penalty-corners in a row.
The Netherlands Antilles had only been dangerous on sporadic counter-attacks and on one of them in the dying seconds, they forced a penalty-corner but could not convert it, so half-time was reached on the score of 1-1.
The same scenario repeated itself in the second period, with the Americans relentlessly besieging the Dutch Antilles’ circle but failing to penetrate deep enough in the tight defensive network. They also wasted a number of penalty-corners and finally, as is often the case, it was the Netherlands Antilles that managed to score by Ivo Elsenaar on one of their rare incursions across the halfway line!
With all the teams so close in this pool, the loss relegates the USA from possible semi-final qualification to last place of the group.
Canada - Chile : 2 - 0
The two teams knew each other well, having played a series of five tests no later than May with 3 wins for Canada and 2 ties, but it was Chile that started the game with the upper hand, only needing a draw to finish top of the pool… and avoid Argentina in the semi-finals.
The Canadian were decided to redeem themselves after their poor game against the USA and grabbed control quickly, leaving little space or breathing room to the Chileans. They were rewarded by a goal by Connor Grimes, his third in the competition, who received a ball at the top of the circle and unleashed his trademark reverse stick shot. That goal switched the responsibility to make the play on Chile, but they could not shake the aggressive pressure of the Canadians, who nearly increased their lead on a couple of occasions.
The play became more aggressive, as could be expected in this tense situation between two teams with physical styles, and a number of green and yellows cards were distributed to the Chileans, but the score line stayed at 1-0 at half-time.
Canada maintained their pressure at the beginning of the half but failed to capitalize on at least two clear chances. The Chileans, feeling that they were still in the game, started to push forward more but it was Canada who managed to scored the next goal on a well executed penalty-corner combination concluded by Rob Short.
It was Canada’s turn to be under a yellow card and the momentum shifted suddenly, with all the action concentrated in the Canadian defensive zone. With tempers flaring all over the field, the last ten minutes were torrid, with the Canadians relieving the pressure by long balls upfield while the Chilean tide kept coming back at them harder and harder. No more goals were scored though, and Canada finished top of pool B and will play the semi-finals against Trinidad & Tobago, while the Chilean will face the Argentineans.
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