Similar to handball, field hockey held the enticing reward of a ticket to the Paris Games for the champions of these Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.
On Friday, the Argentine men secured their ticket with a 3-1 victory over Chile in the final, courtesy of two goals from forward Lucas Martínez and one from midfielder Agustín Bugallo (both players from Mitre, Argentina).
And on Saturday, ‘Las Leonas’ were determined not to be outdone in an incredibly exciting final against the United States (2-1), where they had to display their characteristic tenacity to secure a victory that will allow them to defend the silver they won two years ago in Tokyo.
The Argentine women had strolled through the group stage with wins against Uruguay (8-0), precisely the United States (1-5), and a dominant performance against Trinidad and Tobago (21-0), with six goals from Agustina Gorzelani, the defender from San Martín in her country. In the semifinals, they defeated Canada 3-0, while the Americans needed a ‘stroke’ shootout against the host Chileans (1-1).
Argentina entered the final as the favorites and managed to take the lead three minutes before the end of the first quarter with a goal from Gorzelani. However, just 19 seconds before halftime, Ashley Sessa equalized with a penalty stroke. Sessa, at 19 years old, is an American champion this year with the University of North Carolina and one of the rising stars in field hockey.
The third quarter saw a more cautious approach, and the final quarter was much livelier. A yellow card was shown at 11:15 from the end to the Argentine forward Julieta Jankunas (from Ciudad de Buenos Aires). The definitive goal came at a disadvantage from Eugenia Trinchinetti (midfielder from San Fernando in her country). At 4:37 from the end, Maria Granatto (forward from Santa Bárbara) received a blue card.
With one player down, Argentina had to defend fiercely and withstand two penalty corners. In one of them, the goalkeeper Clara Barbieri from Lomas AC in Argentina made a spectacular intervention.
In the end, it was 2-1, sending the Argentine team to the Olympics, while the Americans, along with the Chileans (who secured third place with a 0-2 victory against Canada), will have to compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for their chance to secure a spot.