PHOTO: Canada’s women celebrate a goal in their 3-1 victory over Chile on March 22, 2017 at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, BC (By Blair Shier)
Canada’s women’s field hockey team showed it is ready for next week’s Gryphon Hockey World League Round 2 by winning the first of three pre-tournament test matches 3-1 over Chile Wednesday in West Vancouver.
The pre-World League 2 test series is being played at Rutledge Field, the same venue as World League Round 2 from April 1-9, and Canada’s women felt right at home right out of the gates.
“We were really excited, a little bit nervous I think going to play on home soil, but it was really exciting,” says defender Danielle Hennig, who had one goal in the game. “We came out hard and I think moved the ball really well. Chile played pretty well in the second half and put us under a bit more pressure but we managed really well and we’re happy with the foundation that we laid.”
Getting their legs under them on home turf ahead of World League Round 2 is important for a Canadian team which features a large contingent of athletes from the Vancouver area who have not played an international competition in British Columbia.
But while getting comfortable with the home environment is important, the three test matches this week are equally as important when it comes to on-field results, as reaching peak performance prior to next week is the priority.
“It was a good start,” says Women’s National Team Head Coach Ian Rutledge. “The performance was solid and the result was good, so I think it was encouraging on both parts. Definitely things to be better at, but definitely a lot of positives to take away from it.”
Canada started quick on Wednesday, as Hannah Haughn fired a backhand from the top of the Chilean circle but was turned away in the fifth minute.
Shortly after the chance, Canada picked up a penalty corner on which defender Karli Johansen – who hails from nearby North Vancouver, was stopped, but captain Kate Wright (Gillis) knocked in the rebound to give the Canadian women the 1-0 lead.
Despite a Chilean shot on goal in the 13th minute, which goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams turned away, Canada controlled the play throughout the first half.
The momentum led to a string of corners starting in the 20th minute and finishing off on the half-time buzzer with Stephanie Norlander, another North Vancouver native, re-directing a Johansen flick by the Chilean keeper for the 2-0 lead at half-time.
Hennig’s goal late in the third quarter on a hard drag-flick gave the Canadians a 3-0 lead before Chile got one back on only its second shot of the game late in the game.
Canada and Chile play again on Friday at 4:45pm at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, BC. The game is open to the public and free to watch.