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USMNT’s Late Comeback Falls Short in Heartbreaking Loss to Canada in PAG Bronze Medal Match

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SANTIAGO, Chile – The No. 24 U.S. Men’s National Team met familiar opponent, No. 17 Canada, in the Pan American Games Santiago 2023 Bronze medal match. An action packed game, Canada got on the board first but USA equalized just before the half. Canada tallied two more and the Wolves cut the margin late in the contest. A late comeback effort and last minute shot went unrewarded as USA fell 2-3.

Having just met in pool play, the familiar opponents knew it was going to be a tight contest from the start. Canada earned the first circle entry in the 3rd minute that resulted in a high flick over the net. A few moments later a tip into the circle for Canada fell to an attacker who tried to turn and hit but Stuart Kentwell (Spring City, Pa.) got a touch on it before the shot. In the 13th minute Aki Kaeppeler (New York City, N.Y.) received a green card, but USA didn’t fret and pushed forward. Maris Leser (Mannheim, Germany) drove the right baseline, lifted it toward Canada goalkeeper Ethan McTavish to register the Wolves’ only shot of the period.

USA had the better of the attacking advantages in the second quarter. They saw a penalty corner drag attempt by A. Kaeppeler go wide, a few chances when the ball was crossed in the circle and finally capitalized late in the frame. With a minute to go, A. Kaeppeler took a free hit just outside the 25-yard line quickly and Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) one-time scored it to even the match. Canada referred the play, claiming it touched the back of a stick while going through traffic, but the goal stood, and they lost their referral.

Canada opened the third period with a shot that was saved by Klages. In the 33rd minute, USA won their second set piece but couldn’t find a result. Canada ramped up the offensive pressure and saw a goalmouth cross go through untouched. In the 39th minute, Canada took the lead after Fin Boothroyd drove the left side and produced a narrow, low angled backhand goal. On the following play, Leser earned a penalty corner for USA. It started with a trick play where A. Kaeppeler spun and Finlay Quaile (Castle Cary, Great Britain) shot it but McTavish made the save. On the rebound, A. Kaeppeler’s shot was well defended. The quarter closed with Klages making a stick save.

Digging deep, USA registered a shot less than a minute into the final frame. It started when Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) sent a long ball to Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) in the circle whose shot went into the chest of McTavish. In the 51st minute, Klages stopped a Canada penalty corner, but Oliver Scholfield followed up on a rebound goal to make it 1-3. Less than a minute later, A. Kaeppeler had a base line shot saved, but he earned a penalty corner. There was miscommunication at the top on the set piece, but USA kept pushing and earned another after a ball got through the circle to Kai Kokolakis (Melbourne, Fla.) who won it on a backhand attempt. After the first attempt hit a Canada foot, A. Kaeppeler scored to cut the margin at 2-3. USA kept pressing forward and with seconds remaining a great build up went from Dhadwal to Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) on the right who passed to K. Keappeler on the baseline. He quickly passed it to Leser whose shot went just wide. The Wolves saw their late comeback effort go unrewarded as they fell in the bronze medal match.

Today’s contest marked a career milestone for goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin,Germany) who played in his 50th international cap for Team USA.

For more information regarding the 2023 Pan American Games, visit the event page


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