Let the count down begin.
After a successful warm weather training tour which saw Canada’s women play eight exhibition matches against the Queensland Scorchers state team – and come away with 4 wins and 2 draws – Canada’s women’s field hockey team has returned from Australia, shifting focus to the first competition of the year.
And it’s a big one.
With just over one month remaining until the start of Gryphon Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver, the Women’s National Team returned to work at its home base in Vancouver this week.
“We’re really excited. It’s a short turnaround before World League, but I think we have a really good foundation moving forward from the Gold Coast,” says Women’s National Team veteran forward Kate Wright. “I think it really sets us up for complete focus.”
World League 2 (April 1-9, 2017 at Rutledge Field) is part of the qualification process for the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup. The top two teams at World League 2 in West Vancouver will advance to World League Round 3 to be held this summer, and where spots to the World Cup will be handed to the top finishers.
“Our number one goal is to qualify for World League 3,” Wright adds. “But there are some big steps in place to do that; coming first or second.”
Advancing to World League Round 3 would require a successful tournament at home, in front of friends and family. It comes with added pressure, but one that the group welcomes, after having experienced a similar situation at the 2015 Pan American Games – an Olympic qualifier –in Toronto, Ontario.
For others, however, World League 2 could be a first official entrance onto the senior international scene.
“Hopefully if I just keep working over the next five weeks and keep putting in the effort, and working hard then hopefully I have a chance,” says defender Hannah Eborall, who has been training with the senior women since last fall and is coming off her first senior tour in Australia, but has yet to earn her first official cap.
“It was really fun,” she says of the trip to the Gold Coast. “It was amazing to be away with the girls for that period of time, and just to be able to play at that level, with the Queensland team being so fast and experienced as well.”
Canada’s World League 2 roster is expected to be named mid-March, which gives the women three weeks to compete among themselves for the chance to compete on home soil and prepare to fight for 2018 World Cup qualification.
Tickets for Gryphon Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver will go on sale on Monday, February 20. Stay tuned to fieldhockey.ca for details.