TRINIDAD AND Tobago’s women’s hockey team took silver at the 2021 Pan American Challenge in Lima, Peru on Saturday as they went down 2-0 against the hosts in the title match.
Peru dominated proceedings and went ahead in the 26th minute via a penalty corner from Solange Alonso.
Although TT tried valiantly to find the equaliser, the host nation added pressure on the visitors when Marina Montes scored a field goal in the 44th minute.
This was TT’s only loss of the tournament having defeated Peru 1-0 in their opening preliminary match. They went on to draw 2-2 against Paraguay and 1-1 against Brazil to finish second behind Peru in the group stage.
In their semi-final bout against Paraguay on Friday, TT booked a spot in the final by winning 4-3 via penalty shootout, after both teams finished normal time with one goal each.
However, having secured a spot in the final, TT was still able to punch their ticket for the Pan American Cup in Chile in January.
Former national player Sherlan Cabralis was pleased TT was able to achieve its goal of Pan Am Cup (January 2022 in Chile) qualification. She, however, rued a golden opportunity to grab back-to-back wins against the hosts.
“The ultimate aim was to qualify for the Pan Am Cup," she said. "So we’ve been making the steps going along and we hope to improve.
“Although we were able to complete the goal, you still want to be able to show up, so that the next time you meet the team, you have a mental advantage.
“For me, as a player, it’s a psychological advantage to beat a team twice, especially when they’re coming at you and you’re playing them in their backyard,” added Cabralis.
At the Pan Am Cup, TT (tenth) will be the lowest ranked regional team. The other seven competing nations – Argentina, Canada, United States, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and Peru – are first to seventh respectively on the Pan American women’s hockey rankings.
On the world rankings Argentina are third, USA 13th and Canada 15th.
Cabralis suggests that the Pan Am Cup will be used as a measuring stick for TT players ahead of the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games which flicks off in El Salvador in August 2022.
The only way TT can secure a place at the 2023 Pan American Games in Chile is to either finish in the top four at the Pan Am Cup or win the CAC Games.
The ex-TT player believes that latter is a more realistic target.
“It’s now about developing and building on the programme to just keep moving forward from tournament to tournament. It’s a good achievement and they will go and have to put out even more and really give it their all at CAC Games so they could qualify for the Pan Am Games,” she said.
Cabralis, who represented TT in the late 1980s and 1990s, confirmed that the national women’s team missed out on the last two Pan American Games. Another slip up at the CAC level next year means TT would have not participated in Pan Am Games for a period of 12 years.
TT’s best performance at the Pan Am Games came in 1987 (USA) and 1999 (Canada) when they placed fourth on both occasions.
On TT’s chances against some of the globe’s top ranked teams at the Pan Am Cup, she noted, “We will play and be competitive. What that will do is be a good measuring tool for us to get opportunities to play some more at the CAC Games.
“This is why you need that mental building to move from tournament to tournament. From that perspective, it’s a loss (against Peru) in a sense from the psychological game but they did well to qualify and achieve their main goal.”
Cabralis ended, "When you go to the Pan Am Cup, it really sets you up to go to the CAC Games later on the year and then the following year, is Pan Am Games."