(Final) Argentina – Canada: 2 - 2 (ps: 4-5)
A large audience was on hand to support the finalists, Argentina in their traditional light blue and Canada in red. The two teams were quickly in action, with the first chance for Argentina on a penalty-corner by Jorge Lombi, expertly saved by Paul Wettlaufer.
Argentina had all the pressure but the Canadian defense was tightly knit and well marshaled by Rob Short. Finally in the 19th minute, Rodrigo Vila found some space in the crowded circle and hammered a shot from close range that left no chance to Mike Mahood.
Tempers were flaring on the field and the umpires had to stop the game a few times to cool down the protagonists. The Canadians created some dangerous situations around the Argentinean circle and forced two penalty-corners but could not capitalize. Canada maintained their pressure for the end of the half and forced two more penalty-corners but Argentina absorbed the pressure, although they were clearly stretched at times, having to commit fouls to break down the plays (and earning a yellow card in the process).
The game opened up in the second half, with Argentina missing a diving deflection after a swift counter-attack the whole length of the field. With score remaining at 1-0, Argentina seemed to take control of the game but conceded an unforced penalty-corner, giving the chance to Wayne Fernandes to tie the game in the 47th minute. Argentina was suddenly less dominant, their plays seriously hampered by the aggressive Canadian style, and they had to rely on manufacturing fouls to force penalty-corners. On one of them, top scorer of the competition Jorge Lombi gave back the lead to Argentina.
Canada was not down yet and, with the minutes ticking down and the Argentineans fans already singing in the stands, Connor Grimes penetrated the circle and unleashed a cracker that stunned Manual Vivaldi in the Argentinean goal, forcing overtime with “Golden Goal in effect”!
The two teams were cautious during the overtime, worried to commit “the” mistake that could decide the game. Argentina had a penalty-corner in the second overtime but Lombi was not on the pitch and the opportunity was wasted, pushing the game into a dramatic penalty-stroke competition. In should be noted that, in this extremely tense situation and with every ball counting, the Argentina had the fair-play to give back a ball to Canada after an injury to their Captain Rob Short.
In the penalty-strokes competition, a Canadian miss was immediately redeemed by a save by Mike Mahood and the two teams finished the first series of strokes still deadlocked. In the “sudden death portion”, Jorge Lombi’s attempt was saved by Mahood, leaving Wayne Fernandes with the possibility to finish the contest. He didn’t falter and slotted the ball spectacularly in the roof of the net, sending the Canadians not only on the top step of the Pan American podium but also to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
(3-4) Chile – Trinidad & Tobago: 5 - 3
The play was equally shared at the beginning of the first half, with both teams testing each other. No clear chances were creaed, but the Chilean attacks were penetrating deeper in T&T territory. Finally Sebastian Kapsch opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a splendid field goal, and didn’t miss the opportunity to add a second one a few minutes later on a giveaway by the defense.
Trinidad & Tobago looked rather flat in this half and Kwan Browne was not as dominant as he had been earlier in the tournament. They nevertheless managed to pull back a goal on a broken penalty-corner that didn’t seem to go anywhere until Dwain Quan Chan pounced on the ball.
Chile re-established their two goal lead on another penalty-corner before half-time (3-1) but T&T found back their legs and inspiration early after the break to score field goal by Quan Chan again and by Akim Toussaint. With 6 excellent goals, the game was certainly entertaining for the crowd, and the tied score added to the suspense and emotion of the moment. The whole game was nevertheless played in excellent spirit and no card needed to be given.
After Thomas Kannegiesser put back Chile in the lead from an excellent combination in the circle, T&T gave everything they had in the last ten minutes, pushed by the Trinidadian drums in the stands, but they could not engineer another come-back. Sebastian Kapsch put the cherry on the cake for Chile with a last second goal, completing a personal hat-trick (his first goals of the competitions!).
The win gave Chile the Bronze Medal, a step up from the last two Pan American Games when they finished 4th behind Cuba.
(5-6) Cuba – Netherlands Antilles: 3 - 1
Although played for a low rank, this game was very important as only the winner would be invited to an Olympic Qualifier tournament in early 2008 (teams ranked 2 to 5 at these Pan American Games).
The Netherlands Antilles started faster than usual and proved that they could play an attractive attacking game. The game was going back and forth with fairly equal opportunities, until the 24th minute when Gijs Hardeman received the ball in the circle with some room and left no chance to the Cuban keeper.
Cuba looked a tad deflated after the goal and was not really threatening until halftime (0-1), but started the second period at full blast, staging an all-out siege of the Netherlands Antilles defense. The Dutch Antilles had to dig deep in their experience to weather the Cuban fury but the fort was holding strong and the Cubans were always finding an opponent or a stick to spoil their endeavors before they became really dangerous.
Nevertheless, although most of the plays were deep in the Dutch Antilles defensive zone, the score was still in their favor with ten minutes to go and, ironically, they had the best chance of the beginning of this period after a swift counter-attack.
With ten minutes to go, it became obvious that the Netherlands Antilles players were running out of steam and, after defending successfully a series of Cuban penalty-corners, they could not prevent Yoandi Blanco to score from the edge of the circle. The Netherlands Antilles had a last chance on a penalty corner and on the ensuing play, but the Cubans were running wild and Roberto Lemus scored two superb goals after solitary runs through the depleted defense.
It should be noted that Canadian umpire Sumesh Putra ended his international career in this game, after officiating 125 games.
(7-8) USA – Brazil: 13 - 0
The USA did not appear in the mood to simply cruise in this game, possibly to make up for their disappointing final standings in this competition. They relentlessly attacked the Brazilian goals, scoring 9 goals in the first half without much opposition.
Brazil resisted better in the second half after substituting their goalkeeper, playing indeed good hockey at times to show that the sport has a future in their country. They kept the Americans at bay for fifteen minutes, but were overwhelmed in the final stages and had to concede 4 more goals, with the USA going through the whole range of their penalty-corner combinations. Pat Harris scored 5 goals in this game to climb in second position in the goal-scorer standings.
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