Canada drops decision to Argentina in Pan Am women’s field hockey final

Argentina 5 Canada 1

LIMA, Peru — Canada settled for silver after dropping a 5-1 decision to Argentina in women’s field hockey at the Pan Am Games on Friday night.

The result gave Argentina a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Canada will get another opportunity to book a ticket for the Games at a qualifier this fall.

Captain Katherine Wright had the lone goal for the 18th-ranked Canadians, who generated few opportunities against their third-ranked opponents.

On a damp, chilly evening at the Villa Maria Del Triunfo Sports Center, Canada had the game’s first decent scoring chance. Midfielder Natalie Sourisseau found a loose ball but her shot sailed wide.

Argentina opened the scoring midway through the opening quarter as Julieta Jankunas rifled a low shot just inside the post.

Dressed in all-black uniforms, Canada had trouble penetrating the stifling Argentine defence. Wright did manage to get possession down low in the final minute, but Canadian forwards were unable to take advantage after a scramble in front.

Argentina had a penalty corner early in the second quarter but the ball was blocked by the Canadian defence. Another attempt two minutes later made it 2-0 as Silvina D’Elia faked a shot, moved wider and buried the ball into the low corner.

The Canadians got a lift after the halftime break when Wright corralled a loose ball by the side of the net and beat goalkeeper Maria Succi.

However, Carla Rebecchi restored Argentina’s two-goal midway through the third with a deflection and D’Elia put the game away off a penalty corner with 24 seconds left in the quarter.

Jankunas added an insurance goal early in the fourth. With the game in hand, Argentina still kept up the pace and essentially shut down Canada’s offence.

The 1,000-seat venue was full with a few energetic pockets of Canadian supporters trying to compete with a vocal Argentina contingent. It was Canada’s first appearance in the Pan Am final since falling to Argentina at the 1991 Games in Havana.

Canada’s last Olympic appearance in women’s field hockey came during the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

Canada reached the final this year after a 2-0 win over the United States — the 2015 champs — while Argentina defeated Chile 3-1 in the other semifinal.

Argentina, which shut out Canada 3-0 in the preliminary round, had its run of six straight Pan Am gold medals end with a loss to the Americans at the 2011 Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Canada finished second at the FIH Hockey Series Final last June in Valencia to secure a berth in an Olympic qualification event this fall.

The loss of Own The Podium funding and Field Hockey Canada’s financial problems forced the team to turn to fundraising this season. A crowdfunding effort financed the team’s trip to Spain and a private donor helped pay for a training camp ahead of the tournament.

The Pan Am medal is an upgrade for the Canadians, who beat Chile to win bronze four years ago in Toronto.

In men’s field hockey, Argentina and Canada will meet for gold on Saturday. Canada edged Chile 3-2 in one semifinal and Argentina blanked the United States 5-0 in the other.

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