PAHF: Canadian men have dream performance to book ticket to Junior World Cup and Pan Am final against Argentina

July 10, 2024 – Surrey, British Columbia (Canada)

The game of the tournament so far saw Canada put on an electric performance and put away Chile 3-2 in the semifinals. Earlier in the day the Argentina men dropped the USA 3-0, while fifth place went to Mexico after tying the game 1-1 and winning in a shoot out 3-0. 

Semifinal: Argentina (3) – USA (0)

The Leoncitos secured a spot in the gold-medal game for the 14th-straight time with a 3-0 win over the United States in the first men’s semifinal game. The three-goal game was a big improvement for the Americans following the pool-play match-up between the same teams a day earlier where the USA conceded 12 goals. This time, keeper Amar Singh was in fine form, even weathering a series of penalty corners in the opening minutes of the game. 

It took 22 minutes for Argentina to get on the board and it seemed almost unfair for them to score the way they did after the USA did so well to prevent free play and set piece opportunities. An aerial into the circle was booked for an Argentine forward and the USA encroached to force a penalty stroke. Captain Tomas Ruiz made no mistake to bring the game to 1-0. Lorenzo Somaini doubled the lead in the 22nd minute finishing a broken-down penalty corner that eventually skipped through Singh’s legs.

Outside of the two goals, the USA were doing well to defend but struggled to muster up any offensive pushes or connect coming out of their back field. In the second half the USA started to loosen up and start to send some aerial balls to generate some space but they struggled to connect up front despite the encouraging efforts from Wyatt Katz and Willem Pouw. 

Argentina continued to generate penalty corners and create opportunities but Singh put on a world-class show to keep his team in it. Finally, in the final minute of the game a quick break on the counter-attack the ball found Matias Rey in the circle. Rey cleverly slipped the ball across to Santiago Fernandez whose back-hand beat Singh for a 3-0 tally. With the victory Argentina secure their spot in the final for the 14th time in as many editions and clench a birth to the Junior World Cup. The USA will still have a shot at vying for Junior World Cup qualification in the bronze-medal match against Chile on July 12.

Semifinal: Canada (3) – Chile (2)

In an intense, exciting and end-to-end match up it was the home team Canada that came through with a 3-2 win over Chile. Canada came out with energy and flare from the opening push back and never let up. 

In the second quarter Sebastian Leohnert received a 10-minute yellow card for taking a Canadian player to the ground. The Canadian response was immediate as Robin Thind carried the ball to his back-hand and blasted a reverse-stick shot that sent the Canadian crowd into fits as the home side took a 1-0 lead. 

Still down to 10 players, Sebastián Wolansky’s aerial was mishandled by Canada’s Lucas Aardenburg and the resulting swat at the ball resulted in a stick foul upgraded to a penalty corner. Who other than Wolansky himself stepped up to the plate to deliver a drag flick to bring the game level 1-1. 

From there it was end to end excitement with Canada showing a bit more offensive prowess. Chile had their chances but some superb number-one running on penalty corners by Aardenberg and Kirin Robinson frustrated Wolansky.  

Early into the third quarter Leighton De Souza’s cross-field ball skipped all the way over to Joshua Miranda. Spread on the other side of the pitch, Miranda had the Chileans reaching in desperation and Miranda was taken to the ground to give Canada penalty stroke. Thind fired in from the spot to make it 2-1. Hudson Loh added an insurance marker in the 59th finishing off a great run for Canada. Chile were able to find Felipe Richard in front of the Canadian goal for a second goal but it was too little, too late and Canada enjoyed the home crowd victory, a spot in the final and, ultimately, a berth to the Junior World Cup. Canada will tune up ready to face Argentina in the gold-medla match on July 12.

5th Place: Brazil (1) – Mexico (1) (SO 0-3)

Luigi Lunardi opened the scoring in the ninth minute finishing Brazil’s first penalty corner with a low flick that rung the backboard. Brazil seemed in control of the opening quarter of play but Mexico had a better sense of pace and urgency compared to a day ago, when the two teams were split by a lone goal in favour of Brazil. Against the rush Andre Benedith received a quick pass in the Brazil circle and blasted a back-hand shot that beat keeper Leonardo Santos from a tight angle to level the game 1-1. 

Both teams had chances with Brazil earning a penalty corner in the dying seconds of the game but a blocked shot sent the game to shootouts. Andre Benedith, Angel Gonzalez and Santiago Camacho beat Brazil keeper Leonardo Santos, while Brazil struggled to beat Mexican keeper Edgar Espinoza to take the game and seal fifth place for Mexico. 


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