July 25, 1999
Winnipeg, Canada - A strong showing against Canada is all the United States women hoped for Sunday during preliminary play at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. Team USA coach Guy Baker got his strong showing, but it wasn't strong enough. Canada eked out an 8-7 victory to up their record against the United States to 4-10 since January 1998.
The teams met in the same pool in which Canada defeated the U.S. 6-4 in May's FINA World Cup to earn an Olympic berth. With a little less on the line during Sunday's prelims, the United States used the game to work on skills absent among the young team during Saturday's tough loss to Brazil.
"You never like to lose to your rival," USA and UCLA coach Guy Baker said. "We played like I expected us to play. We played like a team, and that's what we didn't do yesterday. With some new players out there and only one weekend of practice with the whole team since May, we really needed to just work through this game."
Canada led from start to finish, due much to the efforts of two-meter offensive standout Johanne Begin. With an average two-inch, 26-pound advantage on her defenders, Begin dominated the middle, scoring four point-blank goals.
For U.S. goalie Bernie Orwig, Begin was the toughest trench player she's seen to date. "It was difficult knowing which way she'd go. We spread them out to cut off their perimeter shots, but that left our defense unable to help out and double-team [Begin] in the middle," Orwig said. "Once the ball is in that close, you don't know which way they're going to turn. You have to read and guess, and hope that you guess correctly."
Orwig guessed correctly on six of seven perimeter shots, and was 1-for-2 in extra-man situations, but was just 2-for-6 against Begin.
Once again, the United States offense came to life in the second half. Down 6-2 with 2 minutes remaining in the third period, Team USA scored three unanswered goals to pull within one goal just 35 seconds into the fourth period.
"We went into the game wanting to move the tempo, get drives on goal, create open water for our girls to move and shoot," said UCLA speedster Coralie Simmons, who scored two goals to increase her tournament total to five. "We forced too many passes and were too patient looking for opportunities in the first half. In the second half, knowing we needed to shoot more, we were less choosy and it paid off."
The United States took just eight first-half shots compared to 17 second-half shots, nine of which were considered on-goal. But just as Team USA earned some momentum, that's when Begin took matters into her own hands. Two extra-man goals in the fourth period each extended Canada's lead to two goals, keeping the United States at bay.
The United States takes on Cuba at 11 a.m. Monday in the conclusion of preliminary play. Cuba did not play Sunday, and lost 15-4 to Canada on Saturday.
Scoring Summary Team 1 2 3 4 Total United States (white) 0 1 3 3 6 Canada (blue) 1 2 3 2 8
Goals USA: Scott 2, Simmons 2, Swail 2, Johnson. CAN: Begin 4, Campbell 3, Deslieres.