USA Falls to Brazil in Semifinal; Will Play Hosts Chile in Bronze Medal Match
by Matthew Collins
In the first semifinal match of the 2023 Pan American Games, Brazil showed why they are the current South and Central American Champions, as they defeated the USA by a final score of 40-27.
The American side jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the third minute but trailed the rest of the match, being in a ten goal deficit as the team reached the halftime whistle.
The teams spent the second half trading goals back and forth until the end of the match, with the loss for the US confirming their slot in the Bronze Medal Match on Saturday evening.
Head Coach Robert Hedin was optimistic, even given the scoreline, looking to periods of the match that were positive for his squad.
"You maybe think we played bad, but we started really good. But then we had 20 bad minutes and that lost the game. The second half is really, really good, and we have learned a lot from this game," Hedin said.
The leading scorers for the USA were wings Sam Hoddersen and Sean Corning who scored six and four goals, respectively. All of the American players, except for goalkeepers Pal Merkovszky and Douglas Otterstrom, scored a goal in the match.
When asked about the challenge that this Brazilian squad posed for the American in today's match, Drew Donlin said that Brazil's "experience" made a big impact.
"Those guys have been playing together for a long time. The past two Olympics, pretty much the same team. They are just a high class team. Their experience and their skill, we can't make mistakes like that against a team like this," Donlin said.
Donlin added that he was "proud" of Maksim Tanner McCauley and Benjamin Edwards for their performance.
"Our young guys really stepped up today," when referring to McCauley and Edwards. "Those guys are going to be players for us in the future and it showed today."
The Bronze Medal Match opponent will be hosts Chile, who were defeated in the later semifinal by Argentina, 33-26.
Having a home court advantage, with Chilean fans packing the arena for every one of La Roja's matches, Chile will prove to be a challenge for the US to secure a medal at this Pan American Games.
Hedin talked about the mood at the Polideportivo de Vina Del Mar for the entirety of the tournament, especially speaking on the raucous crowd from game to game.
"It's a nice atmosphere. It's fun to play here. It's how it should be."