In a thrilling finish to the final games of the UANA 19U Junior Championships, the Canadian men halted the United States, edging them 17-16 to win tournament gold, while the women of Canada did the same earning a 11-10 win.
On the men’s side, the opening quarter was a tense match-up for these two teams with both squads matching the intensity of the other in front of a large crowd at the Kinsmen Sports Centre. The Canadians would get on the board first, but it was the United States closing out the first quarter with a marginal 5-4 lead. Canada had a big half from captain Jeremie Blanchard, who netted four of his teams 11-8 lead heading into the second half.
Canada had a huge third quarter and managed to put a bit of a lead between them and the United States, heading into the final quarter of play with a 15-11 lead. The intensity seemed to kick up a notch in the last period however Canada remained on top midway through the fourth, with a 17-13 lead. The United States continued to press as time winded down, with Ryan Sawyer netting one with 47.3 seconds remaining to cut Canada’s lead down to just one. The Canadian men still managed to hang on for the 17-16 lead to capture the gold.
“We are just elated to have won gold on home soil. We all believed we could do it and that we were the best team here and today, we showed it,” said first assistant coach, Andrew Muir.
Jeremie Blanchard totaled seven goals in the game while British Columbians Gareth Jones and Reul D’Souza tallied four and three goals respectively. Felix Poliseno, Aleksa Guardijan and Aria Soleimani also registered on the scoreboard for Canada.
Both Canada and the United States’ men teams will head to FINA World Championships in Budapest next July with their first and second place finishes, along with Brazil, Puerto Rico and Argentina
Earlier in the evening, the women of Canada also earned a gold medal finish after edging the United States 11-10.
“I am super proud of all the girls being able to play together as a team, everybody doing their part and staying composed in some pretty pressured moments,” said Head Coach Andrew Robinson. “I think that was the key to us winning”.
The Canadian women, who had remained undefeated through the course of this tournament, were looking to add a gold medal to perfect their finish at the Junior Pan Ams’, after finishing with a bronze in Riverside, CA at the event’s 2014 edition. The United States was searching for their second consecutive gold after defeating Brazil in the final of the 2014 games.
A strong team performance and some outstanding individual efforts all contributed to the excellent results for Canada. Albertan Kyra Christmas finished the night with a total of seven of her team’s eventual 11 goals, and earned MVP honors for her outstanding performance. Goaltender Clara Vulpisi, from Montreal, QC, was also named the tournament’s top goaltender for her performance in this tournament. Axelle Crevier, with three goals, and Nina Ceklic with a single, completed out tonight’s scoresheet for Canada
In the bronze medal matches, Brazil reaped double bronze, with its men edging Argentina 9-8 and its women’s team capturing a 13-7 win over Puerto Rico at these UANA Junior (9U) Pan American Championships.
Final Men’s Standings:
1st Gold- Canada, 2nd Silver- United States of America, 3rd Bronze-Brazil, 4th Argentina, 5th Puerto Rico, 6th- Colombia, 7th- Trinidad and Tobago
Final Women’s Standings:
1st Gold- Canada, 2nd Silver- United States of America, 3rd Bronze- Brazil, 4th Puerto Rico, 5th Trinidad and Tobago
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