Thursday, August 15, 2013

Canada beat T&T 3-1..

Canada pleased the home crowd with a strong performance against Trinidad & Tobago to grab first place of Pool B; despite a win against Brazil (5-0), Chile is relegated to the second tier of the competition.

Match 12 - Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago 3-1 (half-time: 3-1)

Before the last match of pool play, Trinidad & Tobago were leading Pool B with 6 points (2 wins), with Canada and Chile just behind with 4 points (1 win and 1 draw). Trinidad & Tobago were qualified for the semi-final whatever the result of the game, but Canada needed a win (to qualify in 1st place) or a draw (to qualify in 2nd place then face Argentina in the next round). The Chilean team was cheering for Trinidad & Tobago, as a Canadian loss would push them into a semi-final berth!
Antoni Kindler was called into action early in the Canadian goal, on a deflection from close range, and Canada were dangerous at the other end following a powerful circle penetration by Matthew Guest, to set the attacking tone of the match. Trinidad & Tobago were first on the scoreboard in the 7th minute on an own-goal by a Canadian defender on a long ball hit in the crowded circle. This set-back triggered an immediate reaction from the Canadians and they forced a penalty-corner but, as seems to be very much a trend on this pitch, could not trap the ball properly.
A long period of Canadian domination followed, but the Trinidadians were doing a good job frustrating them before they reached a shooting position. Trinidad & Tobago were dangerous on swift counter-attacks, forcing Canada to keep some deep defenders. Play was flowing back and forth in an entertaining way, but with no shooting opportunity at either end, until the 21st minute when Iain Smythe managed to find the ball in a goal-mouth scramble and propel it in the roof of the net to level the score at 1-1.
With the two teams back on par, Canada seemed to regain confidence and Andrey Rocke in the Trinidadian goal had to manage some hot situations in front of him. Canada expertly defended a penalty-corner with 5 minutes to go in the period and on the next action forced a penalty-corner which they, for once, executed perfectly to take the lead with 2 minutes left in the period. They had time to add a third goal by Matthew Sarmento and went into the break with a two-goal lead (3-1), much to the relief of the home crowd.
Trinidad & Tobago seemed to have lost the spring in their pace at the beginning of second period and Canada were all over the Trinidadian circle, but they could not increase their tally past their two-goal lead, despite some clear chances. That allowed Trinidad & Tobago to progressively come back into their game, with the tireless work of veteran Kwan Browne who seemed to be everywhere on the field, and Canada had to defend a few critical situations.
Canada seemed to go back into a defensive shell with ten minutes to go, conceding 3 penalty-corners in a row, and the ghost of the late Chilean comeback hovered on the Canadian side of the pitch, especially when Mark Pearson received a yellow card. The last minutes of the match were all played in the Canadian defensive end, but they held tight to grab the top spot in pool B and a semi-final berth against the USA on Thursday, while Trinidad & Tobago will face Argentina in the other semi-final.
For more information and pictures of CAN vs. TTO, click here.

Match 9 - Brazil vs. Chile: 0-5 (half-time: 0-1)

Brazil have played well in this competition but still lost their first two matches (1-3 vs. Canada and 2-5 to Trinidad & Tobago). Chile started well with a draw against Canada but were surprised by Trinidad & Tobago, conceding a hefty loss (1-5) that forced them to win this last pool match with a wide margin to have a slim chance to qualify for the semi-finals.
Both teams started tentatively, possibly because of the strong cold wind sweeping the pitch in this early morning. Chile had most of the ball possession but Brazil was well regrouped in defense around their captain Ernst Rost Onnes, not leaving any space for the Chilean attackers to penetrate the circle. Chile earned their first penalty-corner in the 18th minute and Martin Rodriguez deflected the ball at the right post to open the scoring.
Chile had another penalty-corner soon after and tried a combination on the other side of the goal, but to no avail. The Brazilians did not lose their structure and kept frustrating the Chilean attackers around the circle. They pushed forward in the last ten minutes of the period and forced a series of three penalty-corners, but could not make them count, with 2 big saves by Adrian Henriquez in the Chilean goal.
Chile started to show frustration and Brazil had a few late chances, including a penalty-corner on the buzzer, but score did not evolve and the break was reached with a slim one-goal margin for Chile.
Chile knew that they needed to score more goals. They immediately set to the task at hand, and Felipe Eggers managed to pick up the rebound from a penalty-corner originally mistrapped. They added a 3rd goal soon after by Alexis Berczely, again on penalty-corner, and things were suddenly looking brighter for them. 
Brazil however nearly scored on the next action after stealing a ball from a sloppy defensive clearance, and had a chance on the subsequent penalty-corner, but Adrian Henriquez was again up to the task in the Chilean goal. Chile were more efficient at the other end and scored a 4th goal, once again on penalty-corner, this time by Jaime Zarhi, to push the score to 4-0.
After a 5th goal by Thomas Krussig on penalty-stroke, Brazil had a good reaction and caught the Chilean defense flat-footed to force another penalty-corner, but they still could not convert it. Chile seemed satisfied with the 5-0 scoreline and did not show the same urgency in the final minutes of play. They will have to wait for the results of the match between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago later tonight to know if they are qualified for the semi-finals.

Argentina hammer Uruguay 29-0..

Schedule for Thursday August 15:
9h00 (cross-over 5-8): 3A Mexico vs. 4B Brazil
11h30 (cross-over 5-8): 3B Chile vs. 4A Uruguay
17h00 (semi-final): 1A Argentina vs. 2B Trinidad & Tobago
19h30 (semi-final): 1B Canada vs. 2A USA

Argentina continued their march forward with another relax win against Uruguay (29-0); they will be joined in semi-finals by the USA, who had to battle until the last minute to edge out an exciting young Mexican team (3-2).
Match 11 - Argentina vs. Uruguay 29-0 (half-time: 13-0)
If there was any doubt in the result of this match, the suspense did not last long: top scorer of the competition Facundo Callioni increased his personal tally to 6 goals in the 2nd minute of play with a bouncing ball that baffled Jose Lasa in the Uruguayan goal.
Gonzalo Peillat added a penalty corner a few minutes later, Agustin Mazzilli inherited a ball in front t of the keeper with no defender in sight for the 3rd goal, and the Argentinean had a commanding lead after 7 minute and without even breaking a sweat.
With 10 minutes to go in the period, Argentina were up 10-0 and not showing any sign of slowing down their scoring spree. Uruguay could only manage some sporadic raids forwards and Juan Vivaldi was having a quiet afternoon in the Argentinean goal. Half-time was reached with a hefty lead for Argentina (13-0).
Even if there was logically a deep difference between the two teams (one ranked 10th in the world and the other ranked 47th), the crowd was treated to a spectacular display of individual and collective skills by the Argentineans, who cruised to a 29-0 win, very close to their record of 30-0 against the Dominican Republic during the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo.
For more information and pictures of ARG vs. URU, click here.

Match 10 - Mexico vs. USA: 2-3 (half-time: 1-1)

Both teams arrived into this match with one win and a loss, and therefore still with the possibility of making the semi-finals with a win in this last pool match. However, Mexico lost heftily to Argentina (2-13) and a draw would favour the USA.
Match was balanced to start, the American attackers facing a well-organized and disciplined Mexican defense. The USA could not capitalize on their first penalty-corner, shot just wide, and Mexico were also unsuccessful at the other end after a swift counter-attack. The young Mexicans became progressively more entrepreneurial and stunned the Americans in the 17th minute with a goal by Francisco Aguilar after good pressure on the American defense.
The USA tried to build opportunities patiently but generated few shots on goal, with their best chance a strong shot by Pat Harris from close range well handled by Mois├ęs Vargas in the Mexican goal. Harris was however on target in the 33rd minute with a diving deflection to tie the score going into the half-time break (1-1).
Mexico knew that they needed to score and immediately set to the task, forcing a penalty-corner in the 39th minute. Aguilar was impeded illegally while shooting and converted himself the resulting penalty-stroke to give back a narrow one-goal lead to Mexico. The USA thought that they had once again closed the gap in the 48th minute but the goal was denied and the subsequent penalty-corner shot wide.
 The USA played with more and more urgency, but the Mexicans managed to keep their compact defensive structure for a while. There was however only so much pressure they could sustain and Pat Harris scored a superb goal, his 2nd of the match, to bring back the score level with 10 minutes to go. The end of match was exciting, with the Mexicans pushing desperately for a third goal and Francisco Aguilar creating havoc in the American defense, but they had to play short the final minutes of the match after a yellow card to one of their defenders, and Pat Harris completed his hat-trick in the final minute of play with a phenomenal penalty-corner that shaved the crossbar.
With the win, the USA move on to the semi-final and will have to wait until later today to know their opponent.