PHOTO: Canada’s Thea Culley watches as a Chinese player makes a pass in Canada’s quarterfinal match at the 2016 Hawke’s Bay Cup
Canada’s women’s field hockey team had an impressive showing in its Hawke’s Bay Cup quarterfinal match against China, but a goal in the first minute was the difference as the Chinese beat the Canadians 1-0 Thursday in New Zealand.
The Canadians will be pleased with the effort they gave for sixty minutes, but disappointed they could not overcome the one-goal deficit in an evenly played match.
From the opening whistle, Canada pressed the Chinese in their own end. China was forced to move the ball quickly and it worked in their favour in the first minute as the ball popped loose in the midfield and ended up finding its way to Yang Peng, who managed to put a quick hit by Canadian goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams for the game’s first goal.
The game settled in quickly after the goal, with both teams knowing the importance of the next tally.
Canada had a good chance to equalize at the end of the first quarter when they were awarded a short corner at the 15 minute mark.
Karli Johansen took the ball, but couldn’t convert on her flick. The Canadians had a few swipes at the loose ball before the Chinese cleared for the end of the first quarter.
China had a corner chance of their own early in the second quarter, but Williams came up big for Canada with a diving save to her right off a Mengyu Wang flick.
The save seemed to spark the Canadians who picked up the pace, saw more of the ball, and kept the play in the Chinese end for long passages before the half. But they were not able to convert and the score remained 1-0 at the break.
After a Holly Stewart chance was turned away early in the third quarter, Canada faced a setback in the second half when captain Kate Gillis was sent off for five minutes with a yellow card.
The Canadians withstood the Chinese pressure thanks in part to Williams who read a play well on a Chinese counter-attack, charging out to make a save on an open player in the 44th minute.
China slowed the game down considerably in the fourth quarter, trying to keep the ball away from the Canadians and it worked well for the most part.
Canada’s best chance to score came in the 59th minute when the ball was driven from the baseline across the face of the Chinese goal, but there was no Canadian stick at the other end and the Chinese held on for the 1-0 victory.
Canada will now face India – which lost to Japan in another quarterfinal – on April 9 at 11:30am in New Zealand (4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET on April 8 in Canada). The game can be watched live at hockeynz.co.nz. The winner of the match will play for 5th place on April 10, while the loser will play for 7th.