After a nailbiting shootout, with the rain pouring and the home crowd roaring, Chile made their first Pan American Games final with a 3-2 shootout win over Canada. In regular time, goals came in the second quarter from Canada captain Gordie Johnston and in the fourth quarter from Chile’s Franco Becerra.
Play from both teams seemed gridlocked for half — little team gave space to generate attack and play remained between the 23-meter lines. Canada had the first penalty corner chance at the end of the first quarter but Johnston’s flick was run down by Becerra charging out and the re-award saved brilliantly by Chilean keeper Adrian Henriquez.
The second quarter was intense and as the rain poured across the pitch at Estadio Nacional the teams seemed as sharp as ever. Chile had a series of penalty corner chances but the Canadians seemed to have studied the expert, Juan Amoroso, as Canada’s Brendan Guraliuk ran down three in a row. Moving to another option, Andres Pizarro tried his hand from the top of the circle but Canadian keeper Ethan McTavish made a great diving save to his stick side.
Just before half time Canada earned a penalty corner and despite a video referral, Gordie Johnston’s flick stood to bring Canada ahead 1-0. Little things seem to not go Chile’s way and Canada entered the third quarter with what seemed like more possession and control. Chile’s Nils Strabucchi blocked a penalty corner flick from Johnston, while McTavish denied a flick from Andrés Pizarro.
It all came down to the final quarter and even with Sebastián Wolansky serving a yellow card sentence, Chile were able to draw level. After a free play scare across the Canadian goal mouth, Canada’s Balraj Panesar lost his cool to give Chile a chance from a penalty corner. Three re-awards later and Amoroso’s flick was frist saved by McTavish but then Becerra knocked the ball down and in to tie the game. The crowd roared their home side on all the way until the final minutes of the game where Canada nearly tapped one in at the back post but there was little to split this team and so to a shootout it went.
Chile’s Jose Hurtado, Franco Becerra and Juan Amoroso scored each in the shootout, while Floris van Son and Keegan Pereira were the lone two to score for Canada. Brenda Guraliuk thought he had tied the round on Canada’s final attempt but his rebound attempt soared over the goal. The Chilean team rushed their keeper, Henriquez, past a gutted Guraliuk lying on the ground to celebrate this historic moment for Chile in Chile.
This is the first time since 1971 that the men’s Pan American final has not featured Canada and Argentina. This time, the Leones will have a new opponent to face for a chance to go to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games – Chile. Canada and USA will now battle it out for the third and final spot that qualifies Pan American teams for the next round of Olympic qualification as well as the Games’ bronze medal.
Earlier in the day Mexico beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in a shootout after a back-and-forth 3-3 game. Mexico will now play Brazil, who beat Peru 8-1 in the other 5-6th place classification match. Peru and Trinidad and Tobago will square off for 7-8th place.