PHOTO: Mark Pearson carries the ball in Canada’s 4-1 win over Russia in the World League 2 semifinal on April 1st in Trinidad and Tobago (Courtesy of PAHF)
Thanks to a two-goal performance from Scott Tupper in his 250th game for Canada, and a strong effort from veteran Mark Pearson, who also scored twice, Canada’s men’s field hockey team beat Russia 4-1 in the World League 2 semifinal Saturday in Trinidad and Tobago.
With the win, Canada’s men not only advance to the World League 2 final – which will be played on Sunday at 5pm PT/8pm ET against Japan – but also book a ticket to the World League Semi-Finals (Round 3) which will be played in either London, England or Johannesburg, South Africa later this year, and at which 2018 World Cup spots will be awarded to the top finishers.
“It was a good performance and we took our chances, which we kind of struggled with in the last couple of games,” Pearson said after the win.
“After a little bit of a scare against the Swiss team in the quarterfinal, anything can happen, so we did our due diligence and we watched some video and we prepared well.
“And I think as we’ve shown in the past couple of years ,when the chips are down, this team gets the result. It was a methodical performance.”
Russia opened the scoring in the 11th minute as Marat Khairullin redirected a long ball in past Canadian keeper David Carter.
But Canada’s men, who are ranked first in the competition, were not deterred by going down to a lower ranked team in an a do-or-die game, which had much more than tournament implication on the line.
“I think especially with some of the younger guys having more experience in some of these bigger games, it’s something that we’re not nervous about or scared of as much,” Pearson said. “And guys stepped up across the board today.
“We want to build on this sort of result. So, we’re here to win a tournament. We know we haven’t won a tournament since 2009, which is a long time. So, for us we would like to add that our belt so to speak.”
Pearson had a strong game in the circle, earning multiple corners for Canada and teamed up with Tupper to get the Canadians back in the game.
In the 19th minute, an attempt on the corner from Tupper was turned away by the post-man, but Pearson was on the line to knock in the rebound and tie the game at one.
Canada took the lead on another penalty corner in the 26th minute, when this time Tupper converted on his chance to get his first of the game and the 2-1 lead.
Tupper picked up his second, once again on a penalty corner drag flick in the 29th minute, and Pearson scored from the run of play in the 48th minute to round out the scoring.
Tupper and Pearson, Canada’s only active two-time Olympians and the veterans of the team, were in on all four goals, in what was important game not only on the field, but also in their careers, as Tupper played in his 250th match, along Pearson who is not too far behind at 215.
“It was a special day for me,” Pearson added. “Tups is really my best friend, and someone I’ve played with for so long and it’s his 250th cap. I had the honour to speak and present him with a gift before the game. A little bit extra special for both of us, I think.”