The USA Field Hockey Men’s National Team defeated host nation Chile, 2-1, in the semifinal match of the 2009 Pan Am Cup. The USA advances to the championship game vs. Canada, Sunday at 17:30 local time. The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi, India.
In front of a vocal crowd and national television audience, the Chileans looked to ride their home field advantage to victory. But it was the USA’s Pat Harris (Moorpark, CA) who opened the scoring, taking the lead for the Americans on a penalty corner in the 30th minute.
Jed Cunningham (Moorpark, CA) extended the lead on a field goal in the 64th minute.
“We knew going in the game was going to very intense,” said Harris. “Chile was going to come out firing. We tried to stay cool and composed and stick to our game plan.”
Chile finally capitalized on fierce play late in the second half, as Ian Scally (Thousand Oaks, CA) was sent off with a yellow card. With the USA reduced to ten players, Chile’s Thomas Kennegiesser was able to score a penalty corner goal in the 64th minute, but the comeback was cut short and the USA secured the victory.
“We did what we had to do,” said defender Sean Harris (Moorpark, CA). “Our coaches told us to play hard. They gave us the tactics we needed, and we followed through.”
Chile entered the semifinal contest as the champions of Pool B, completing three games of pool play with two wins and drawing against 2008 Olympic Games participants Canada. Chile outscored their opponents 19-5.
The USA completed Pool A play with a second place finish, with a record of two wins and one loss. Argentina won Pool A with three dominating victories, outscoring opponents 33-0, but fell 4-3 in overtime to Canada in their semifinal contest today.
Pat Harris noted tomorrow’s game against Canada will be tough. “The team that puts away their chances is going to become the champion,” said Harris.