Canada collected a third straight victory, and Group A supremacy to give it the supposed easier route to the semifinals as it will play the fourth-ranked Group B team in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Canada beat Hungary 14-13 in a ripper of a match that had a few spectators on their seats. The win was gained through dogged determination, putting aside a second-quarter crisis and, all importantly, repulsing Hungary in the final stages of the encounter.

Canada had the dream start, shooting to 3-1 and then 4-2 by the first break in what was a confident display from a team that came into the day unbeaten. Hayley McKelvey scored twice with her second off a fast attack where she was singled out with an excellent pass and she shot from the left post undefended, much to the dismay of Hungarian coach Attila Biro.

McKelvey made it three with a bouncer early in the second period and Shae La Roche took the margin to 6-3 on extra, grazing the left upright, but Hungary then started to put its game together. At 7-5, Canada was set for another three-goal margin only for Joelle Bekhazi watch her lob hit the crossbar on an open goal. It was all Hungary needed to get back into the match, with Anna Illes nailing her second — on counter — and then Natasa Rybanska and Greta Gurisatti each on extra-man attack to level the match at 7-7, 15 seconds from halftime.

Canada regained its composure in the third period, even after Rebecca Parkes backhanded a centre-forward goal to give Hungary its first advantage of the match. Canada came back with three unanswered strikes — through Kyra Christmas on extra, Monika Eggens off a snappy cross pass at the four-metre line and then Christmas again with a left-handed blast from seven metres. She nearly scored in the dying second when her shot barred down, but failed to cross the line.

“We managed to pull it all out, like we’ve been doing all tournament. We lost rhythm in the middle of the game. It’s a great team to coach. It’s fun.”
By David Paradelo (CAN) — Head Coach

The final period provided plenty of spectacle, least of all the four timeouts inside the final two minutes. Rita Keszthelyi and Parkes redressed the imbalance in the first two minutes, only for La Roche with a wide shot from six metres and Christmas with her fourth from her favoured left-hand-catch position for 12-10 at 3:57. Paula Leimeter (HUN), so impressive in the earlier two matches where she scored six goals, banged one in from deep right at 3:15 and the match was well alive. Axelle Crevier bounced one off the goalkeeper into the side net for 13-11 at 2:31; Vanda Valyi gained her second with a rifle shot into the top left at 2:08 to trail by one. Four timeouts transpired and expired, including Hungary’s second at 0:016 on the clock.

“We need to improve, mainly on defence. Today was high — 13-14 goals. Our attack was quite good. There is a lot of work needed in defence. Hopefully we have three good games and be ready for the future.”
By Attila Biro (HUN) — Head Coach

Even if that shot had gone in, Canada would have still won the group, as it only needed the draw. Hungary left the pool with just the one win from three matches — the first-day 26-10 walloping of Japan.

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United States of America clinched Group B with a dominant 18-9 victory over previously unbeaten Spain, who now finishes second — still well placed for the crossovers.

USA raced to a two-goal lead and by the first break was 4-2 ahead with Judith Forca (ESP) and Rachel Fattal (USA) scoring a pair each. Madeline Musselman took USA top 3-1, just an amazing five seconds after Forca opened her team’s scoring.

“As a team we played well. We can always play better and better as we go along.”
By Rachel Fattal (USA) — Player of the Match and five goals

The second quarter was strongly in favour of USA, easing to 6-2 with a couple of action goals. Then Elena Ruiz netted Spain’s third from deep left. Musselman and captain Maggie Steffens both scored from a similar position for 8-3. Fattal scored consecutive goals, sliding across to her left at two metres and then from the penalty line. Spain closed the half with two goals — Forca from a penalty shot and Bea Ortiz on counter, narrowing the margin to 10-5 at halftime.

“You can always be more perfect. It’s unachievable. Our goal is to continue to be as good as possible. We executed well and we were sharp. You catch us on a good day and we’re hard to beat.”
By Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach

Spain’s good fortune held at the top of the third when Forca — her fourth — and Ortiz brought the match to within three goals. Forca sent her first penalty top left, but her second bottom right. USA sent in three more before taking a timeout at 1:24 with the score at 13-7 and the resulting play gave Steffens her fourth goal.

“It was a very big difference. They destroyed us today. We have to improve our defence against USA. They are very good in counter-attack, centres, shooting and movement. It is very difficult to defend them.”
By Miki Oca (ESP) — Head Coach

In the fourth quarter, Spanish stars Roser Tarrago and Ortiz gained their third major fouls as USA stretched the margin to 10 with one of the best goals coming from Aria Fischer at centre forward with a backhand. The scoring stopped for the next four minutes and both took a timeout with only Spain’s reaping any reward — a lob goal from deep left by Irene Gonzalez. In the last minute, Melissa Seidemann grabbed her second of the period and Forca slammed in her fifth for 18-9.

USA is typically well placed and Spain will be hoping for a stronger showing in the coming days if it is to better its sole medal at this level — silver in 2016.

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