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BARBADOS - hockey

Argentines rejoice

-Friday 30, April-2004
by Sherrylyn Clarke

WORLD CHAMPIONS Argentina successfully defended their title in the Pan American Women’s Hockey Cup at the National Hockey Centre with a 3-0 victory over the United States on Wednesday night.

They have also secured the lone automatic spot for the Pan Am region in the International Hockey Federation’s 2006 World Cup which will be held in Spain from September 27 to October 7. The United States will head to the qualifiers for yet another chance at making the World Cup.

It was a game of two distinct halves. In the first, America matched Argentina and achieved the amazing feat of keeping them goalless for the full first half.

American goalkeeper Amy Rtran had a fantastic first half, throwing her body at the countless shots which came her way. Time and again, Argentina penetrated the defence only to come up against the solid body of the dread-locked keeper who kept her team in the game, blocking shot after shot.

Argentina’s head coach Sergio Vigil said he reminded the players of their role at half time.

“We produced several goal options, but we were nervous when it was time to score. I asked the players to remember the alternatives to scoring goals, and to keep calm. I told them not be despair because if we did, we would be without protection and make mistakes,” he explained through interpreter Graciela Ortiz, the media officer.

“I pointed out the individual virtues of each player over the rival, but respecting the rivals and how to take advantage of our conditions to break their resistance.”

That talk worked, and results came almost immediately. In the 37th minute, Agustina Garcia finally got the breakthrough. That seemed to shatter all of the nerves, because suddenly, Argentina was in full control. Luciana Aymar then drew some oohs from the crowd after she dribbled through the field on a break and drilled a shot which was only blocked by Rtran’s body.

Garcia scored again nine minutes later off a short corner and Aaalejandra Gulla pounced on a ball across the circle to score her team’s final goal two minutes later.

Winning the tournament was the realisation of a goal for Vigil who retires next year and wanted to make sure the team had already qualified for the next coach.

“I feel very happy because everyone thought Argentina was the favourite before the tournament started, but a big team and a big hockey-scoring country like Argentina must demonstrate this on the pitch and they did. They will have a week to rest and they will train again, looking towards the Olympic Games,” he said.

Beth Anders, coach of the American team, took their only defeat in stride.

“For ten minutes, we had a bit of a let-down and didn’t do exactly what we wanted to do because Argentina is a good team and they are going to wear you down at some point, and they did, but we hung in there,” she said, since they did not qualify for the Olympics.

“We will go home, regroup and get ready for the next competition which isn’t until 2005. I thought the tournament was very competitive. Argentina is high quality, but I think that everybody else is improving very much.”

Canada won the bronze medal match 5-0 over Uruguay. They led 4-0 at half time, with one goal from Stephanie Hume and Kelly Rezansoff, and two from Deb Cuthbert. In the second half, Lesley Magnus scored the final goal off a short corner.

Information compliments of Nation News


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