SANTIAGO, Chile – For the second time in Junior Pan American Championship history, the U.S. U-22 Men’s National Team are bringing home bronze after beating Canada in a shootout. Deadlocked at 1-1 following regulation, the shootout went down to the final person where USA capitalized on a foul and converted the penalty stroke to win the 2021 JPAC bronze.
"I’m just happy for the boys - that they played to their potential today and showed what they are capable of," said Pat Harris, U-22 USMNT Head Coach. "To win the bronze in the shootout was the icing on the cake. "
USA started the game with a quick penetration forward from a long ball from Jatin Sharma (South San Francisco, Calif.) that got to Amar Khokhar (Valencia, Calif.) in the circle. He used skill to get through two Canada defenders but couldn’t get a solid connection on the shot. Down the other way, Canada broke through USA’s defense, getting off two shots in a row, with the first saved by Shomik Chakraborty (Washington, D.C.) and second going wide. In the 9th minute, following a tough defensive spell for USA, Canada was awarded a penalty stroke and Jagpreet Singh converted to make it 0-1. USA closed out the first quarter with some solid build ups forward but couldn’t find a positive penetration.
The second frame saw back-and-forth action, and positive ball movement from USA. In the 27th minute, a close chance came from USA when Damien Tarala (Norwalk, Conn.) drove the right baseline and passed it back to an incoming Colin Hennessy (Marlborough, Mass.) but the ball was smothered by Canada goalkeeper Zachary Coombs. Immediately down the other way, Canada earned a penalty corner that Chakraborty denied with his glove. The halftime score stood at 0-1 to Canada.
The first five minutes saw great offensive threats from USA and in the 36th minute a hard left baseline drive from Khokhar was met by an oncoming Coombs giving the red, white and blue a penalty stroke. Sharma calmly stepped up and scored to even the match at 1-1. In the 42nd minute, it looked like Canada regained the lead, but the deflection went off the stick of a USA defender. On the ensuing play, Canada earned three penalty corners in a row where Chakraborty stood tall to deny two and the third shot went wide.
Deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the final quarter, a determined USA started on the front foot earning a penalty corner 3 minutes in. Tarala was issued a green card in the 50th minute, giving Canada an athlete advantage. This didn’t press USA as they continued to attack together searching for an outcome. As regulation time ticked down, neither team could find a result, forcing the game to be decided in a shootout.
The shootout decider came down to the final shot, that Sharma set up to take. On the chance, he was fouled by Coombs and was awarded a penalty stroke. Like in regulation, he stepped up and converted to give USA the bronze medal win.
"We’ve had a lot of setbacks in the last year and we didn’t have much time to prepare," said Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.), U-22 USMNT Captain. "But in the little time we had, we did our best. This team really came together both on and off the pitch. Coming into this tournament, we held our heads high no matter the result. We wanted to finish knowing we left everything out there - which we definitely did today."
This is only the second time in tournament history that the USA men have won bronze, with the first coming in 2008. Although USA missed out qualifying for the 2021 FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup (JWC) from this event, they are the first reserve should a team pull out. The 2021 men’s JWC is set to take place November 25 to December 5 in India.
For more information regarding the 2021 Junior Pan American Championship, visit the event page.