17 April 2022

Victoria Granatto scored two goals in a 3-0 victory for Argentina over the USA women. From start to end it was the Leonas who held the tempo of the game. While experience proved to be their enemy, the youthful American side showed they have a bright future ahead.

Maximilien Branicki and Charles Masson got on the scoresheet in an important 2-0 victory for France over Argentina. The French attack was firing today while Arthur Thieffry was unbeatable in goal. Playing at home allowed Argentina to get some valuable experience for some of their developing players, who rallied around leaders Matias Rey and Agustin Mazzilli.

Argentina v United States (women) – Cenard, Buenos Aires (ARG)

It was the lions versus the lambs today as an experienced Argentina lineup, with 10 players with 100 caps or more, dropped a talented but youthful USA side 3-0. Packed stands at the Cenard in Buenos Aires roared on the Leonas who wasted no time turning on the heat. The returned Delfina Merino forced a save from USA keeper Kelsey Bing in the second minute of play. Victoria Granatto and Julieta Jankunas wreaked havoc all game for the American defence.

A penalty corner in the seventh minute allowed Valentina Costa an opportunity but the drag flick and rebound were kept out by the defensive unit. Erin Matson what forward attack the USA could muster but Leonas keeper Cristina Cosentino was barely called in to action. Costa had another penalty corner strike in the final minutes of the opening quarter but Amanda Magadan was there to clear the ball.

Despite their dominance it took 19 minutes for Argentina to find their first goal. A composed Granatto curled in tight to beat Jacqueline Sumfest and slide the ball between Bing’s legs to make it 1-0. Brave running from Brooke Deberdine denied a series of Argentina penalty corners to leave it a one-goal half at the break.

In the third quarter Granatto doubled the lead. Jankunas did all the work to get to the right baseline and her cross was sent in to traffic where Granatto deflected in from the tightest of angles. Argentina continued to come in waves of attack but Bing did well to organize her back line and minimize the space.

Delfina Thome fed the ball to Jankunas on the left baseline in the 47th minute. Jankunas patiently waited for a gap and flipped the ball towards a crowded stroke mark. Captain Rocio Sanchez deflected the ball out of the air and in to make it 3-0 for Argentina. The USA then sustained even more pressure with Granatto putting a blast over the net and then Bing saving a back-hand shot from Agustina Alonso and another from Granatto.

The Leonas enjoyed the 3-0 win and their sixth victory in FIH Pro League play.

Two goals from Victoria Granatto earned her Play of the Match honours and after the game she commented: “I think it was a very tough game. We worked really well in different areas of the field, and we played well in defence. We scored the goals we wanted to score and today we were a lot more concentrated as yesterday wasn’t good enough. We are still building the team. Wins are important for us and we did it (in the two games) and I think we are in a good way ahead of the World Cup.”

USA captain Amanda Magadan said after the game: “I think Argentina put us under a lot more pressure today. We struggled to outlet the ball and keep possession. They’re a good team and we were a bit scrappy and they put us under a lot of pressure. I think that was really the difference today. We need to learn to vary our outlet and put teams under pressure moving forward.”

Argentina v France (men) – Cenard, Buenos Aires (ARG)

The tides turned in the Argentina-France Pro League double-header as France earned three points with a 2-0 win over Los Leones. The teams started at pace with both ends getting tested early on. Francois Goyet and Matteo Desgouillons were the first to test the Argentine defence but a quick interception and counter-attack allowed Tomas Domene to stir up trouble in the other end. France did well to put the pressure on as Jean-Baptiste Forgues fed Stanislas Branicki in the circle but the deflection was denied by Nehuen Hernando, who was in goal for Argentina. The pressure paid off in the 11th minute as Gaspard Xavier’s delivery was cleverly deflected by Branicki for a 1-0 France lead after the opening quarter.

A stingy France defence frustrated the usual potent Argentine offence as runs from Ignacio Nepote and Agustin Mazzili were denied. Two green cards in the final minutes of the second quarter left Argentina on the backfoot. A penalty corner flick from Timothée Clément was booked for the top of the net but Hernando calmly made the save. Argentina had a promising break just before half time as a long aerial found the stick of Tobias Martins but his centering pass was well intercepted. Argentina’s closest chance was a penalty corner flick from but it was saved on the line by Masson and deflected off the end line.

In the third quarter France continued to provide the energy and pace for the game but the craftiness of Domene almost drew the game level. A brilliant save from Arthur Thieffy denied a blast from Domene just four minutes in to the third quarter. The pace was high and both lines of defence were dialed in. Following a video referral France found themselves with a penalty corner and a clinical execution from Viktor Lockwood back to Masson to beat Hernando short side and give France a 2-0 lead.

France did the work they needed in both ends of the pitch to protect their lead. Rey and Mazzili combined well in the final minute of the game to earn a Leones penalty corner but it was overturned after a video referral and France sealed the deal on the important three points and enjoyed a2-0 victory.

Player of the Match Charles Masson said after the game: “We played a great game together so we are in a good team spirit today. We defended well and we scored when we really needed to score. The first game we played we didn’t defend that well so that was the reason why we won today, better defence, and we had strong penalty corner defence.”

Federico Monja of Argentina commented after the match: “I think that we were not good in our defensive circle. We approached well with the ball but we couldn’t make the difference in their end. We had a particularly new team (this weekend) and so it was important for us to play with the ball and get these games in. It was difficult because France is a good opponent but it was really good for our new players to have this experience. These kind of games make us stronger as a team.”

Up next in FIH Pro League action the USA women host England and the Leones host South Africa next weekend, 23-24 April. On May 4-5 Germany men and women will host England.

FIH Pro League – 17 April 2022

Cenard, Buenos Aires (ARG)

Result: Women’s Match 18
Argentina 3, United States 0

Player of the Match: Victoria Granatto (ARG)
Umpires: Suzi Sutton (USA), German Montes de Oca (ARG), Federico Garcia (URU-video),

Result: Men’s Match 36
Argentina 0, France 2
Player of the Match: Charles Masson (FRA)
Umpires: Maggie Giddens (USA), Federico Garcia (URU), German Montes de Oca (ARG-video)