Argentina’s las Leonas got gold at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 and with that the ticket to Tokyo 2020. They cruised their opponents and got to the finals where they faced Canada.
At a the pool phase Argentina faced Uruguay, Canada and Cuba. At group B Chile, México, USA and Peru were put together.
Las Leonas path to the final
Argentina started pool phase having to face a tough Uruguayan team. Las Cimarronas has been improving a lot lately thanks to a cobination of hard work and more international caps. In their debut, Argentina won 2-0 with goals scored by Carla Rebecchi and Silvina D’Elia. They continued the path to the final playing Canada and beating them 3-0 and finished the pool phase with a 13-1 score against Cuba.
Quarter finals paired them up with Peru and the team didn’t have mayor problem with their ticket to the semifinals, scoring 21 goals against the host of the tournament.
In the other quarter final, Chile beat Uruguay by 5-0. As a result, the semifinal gave us a South American clásico. Chile’s las Diablas faced Argentina and, altough Chile is the South American team that has improved the most, they couldn’t take las Leonas down and lost 3-1.
Argentina faced Canada at the big final after beating them at group stage, after they bested USA at the semifinals. That is a big statement of what the Packwolf can do and has been doing during the last year despite difficulties and adversity. Sadly, they coudn’t take revenge on the South Americans and ended up losing 5-1.
Las Leonas opened the score through Julieta Jankunas and Silvina D’Elia put them 2 goals up through a short corner. Kate Wright made things interesting scoring for Canada ten minutes later, putting the score 2-1. But las Leonas star, Carla Rebecchi, scored the third goal for the team and D’Elia and Jankunas score again, and that enough to gave them the ticket to Tokyo and the gold medal.
We must remember that Argentina couldn’t take gold since 2007. This was their 9th straight Pan American final, yes, but back at Guadalajara 2011 and Toronto 2015, las Leonas lost both finals to team USA. Those tough loses made Argentina vs USA a true Pan American clásico.
Las Leonas scored 47 goals in the competition. The top scorers? Julieta Jankunas with 11 goals, followed by Carla Rebecchi with 7 goals. Short corner shooters Silvina D’Elia and Noel Barrionuevo scored 5 goals each while the Granatto sisters, Victoria and María José, scored 4 goals each.
Argentina still has a debt when it comes to penalty corners. The team had an average of 6.8 penalty corners per match and only scored 29% of them (13). The level of this important play was low througout the teams but Argentina should’ve been better.
While if we talk about field goals, the team had a peak of 10.6 opportunities per match and scored 55% of them. And defensively speaking, they only received 3 goals in the entire tournament.
Las Leonas numbers are good but this tounament showed the big disparity that still exists in America. While a lack of funding continues to exist, we cannot expect to see much improvements four years from now. Pan American hockey needs to put a serious strategy ahead of the nations under its care. Only in that way the players will develope to their full potential. While a lack of competitive leagues is still an issue in America, there’s no other choice for the players but to go to play overseas. And doing so, the leagues miss key players that can teach a lot to younger players.