It was with mixed response that the American power house in hockey, Argentina, launched its campaign in the FIH Pro League 2020, both in men and women’s sections on Friday. While the Argentine women defeated their continental counterparts, the USA, the men went down to Spain. Las Leonas made a winning start to their campaign with a 6-2 triumph over an improving USA team that certainly gave the hosts plenty to think about.
Julieta Jankunas and Delfina Merino put Argentina 2-0 up before USA captain Ashley Hoffman made the score 2-1 at half time. Argentina stepped up their game in the third and fourth quarters, with Agustina Gorzelany, Rosario Luchetti, Rocio Sanchez and Carla Rebecchi all on target, with Taylor West scoring USA’s second of the match.
“We are very happy about winning this match”, said Argentina’s Julieta Jankunas, who was named Player of the Match. “Starting like this is always nice, and gives confidence to the team, so we are expecting tomorrow to do the same.”
USA captain Ashley Hoffman said: “I am hoping that we as a team can just grow each game and continue to build on what we learned [in the] last game.”
The Argentina versus Spain men’s match was a fascinating encounter that saw the hosts leading on three occasions before eventually suffering a 4-3 defeat thanks to a stunning late strike from Pau Quemada. Maico Casella (2) and Jose Tolini strikes were cancelled out on each occasion by Roc Oliva, Quemada and Vicenc Ruiz before Quemada sealed a Spanish victory in the 59th minute, arrowing a penalty corner drag-flick into the top right corner of the Argentine net.
“I think that the fighting spirit that we had today was really impressive”, said Player of the Match Quemada. “We came back all the time from one goal down, and we came back to 4-3. We keep on pushing, we keep on believing. Our system worked and we got the result, so we need to keep that for tomorrow’s game and improve from our frontline to our backline. I think by doing this we can become a little bit stronger than today.”
Argentina’s Maico Casella said: “I think we [played] a really good game. We had a lot of chances, but we couldn’t score them. We have to work and focus on the next game.”