Leonas and Leones were crown champions last weekend at the Pan American Games, after a two week competition in what was to be their qualifier for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The Pan American Games offered to us the possibility to assess the quality of field hockey in the Americas.
The Pan American Games didn’t bring many surprises
The Pan American competition brought eight teams together: Argentina, Chile, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago for group A, and Canada, United States, Mexico and Peru for group B.
Argentina cruised at group stage, finishing on top of the group, winning all their matches and with 19 goals in favour. Their most notable result for them? It was against the hosts, Peru, finishing 14-1.
Argentina scored a total of 44 goals in this tournament. The top scorers? Leandro Tolini and Maico Casella proved to be goal machines, with 10 goals each. Third was Lucas Martínez, with 7 goals total.
A lot has been said about penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat‘s absence in the national team. But Tolini has proven to be a great short corner shooter as well. Tolini scored 10 goals during the tournament and all of them were from penalty corners. We will have to wait and see if he can reproduce a similar rate success against high ranked opponents in the following months.
After beating team USA by 5-0 in the semifinal, they advanced to the big final against another North American team: Canada´s Red Caribous.
The big final
Canada got to the final after beating Chile in a thrilling match. The North Americans bested the South Americans 3-2, and Red Caribou’s captain Scott Tupper scored a brace.
Canada had great hopes for the final, hopes that seemed to be justified when Tupper scored in the 16th minute. But Argentina tied the match a minute later and two minutes after that, the South Americans scored again. Both goals came through the same player: Leandro Tolini.
Martín Ferreiro, Casella and Martínez completed the hammer. But Gordon Johnston had the last word for Canada, scoring at the 60th minute.
This tournament was the swan song for a dear player. Kwandwane Brown said goodbye to his bloved No.7 shirt for Trinidad and Tobago. The captain finished his career on a high after beating Cuba 2-1 and with more than 300 caps under his belt for his national team.
Some players retire but others continue making history. Canadian Iain Smythe is one example of that. He reached 200 international caps at the semifinal against Chile, where his team got the ticket to the final.
Chilean international Ricardo Achondo also reached a milestone in that semifinal, getting 100 international caps. And Pat Harris, American international, reached his 150 international caps in the same game team USA obtained the bronze medal.
It’s all about growth in the American continent. Therefore, this kind of tournaments are great opportunities for these teams to show their potential and get international competition. There’s a lot of difference between these nations and the results showed it. They also showed how much it needs to be done on this side of the world so we can start having a true worldwide competition during world cups and The Olympics.