PHOTO: Sukhi Panesar (right) marks a Dutch player in Canada’s 3-2 loss to the Netherlands on June 19, 2017 at the World League Semi-Final in London (By Yan Huckendubler)
After a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on Monday, Canada’s men’s field hockey team sits in third in Pool B with one group match remaining at the World League Semi-Final in London.
The Canadian men take on Scotland in their final pool match on Tuesday (4:00am PT/7:00am ET; CBC Sports).
With India and the Netherlands – both sitting on nine points, compared to Canada’s three – out of reach in the top two seeds, a win against Scotland would secure a third place finish for Canada after the group stage, meaning it would draw the second place team from Pool A in the cross over quarterfinal on Thursday.
Scotland currently sits in 5th in Pool B, win three losses through three games. But the Canadians know not to take the world’s 23rd ranked team lightly.
“They’re a real quality side. Their ranking doesn’t do them justice, they’ve got a lot of great players,” says Canadian goalkeeper and veteran Antoni Kindler, who started in Monday’s game against the Netherlands. “We’ll need to come prepared. So we’ll spend the afternoon and the evening reviewing some tape and refining our game plan and then making sure that we come out there with an effort similar to the one we put on the field today.”
In Monday’s match, despite the team statistics weighing on the side of the Netherlands, Canada had a good showing.
The teams were tied 1-1 at the half and that was due in part to a solid performance from Kindler, who was playing in his first game of the competition, and turned away a handful of shots in the first 30 minutes of play.
“Obviously who starts is out of my control, so I just try to prepare for every game as if I’m in net and just wait until my name gets called. And it did for this one,” says the 29 year-old native of Vancouver, British Columbia, who has played in 67 senior international matches since his debut in 2008.
“I’ve had two games to get accustomed to the pitch, we’ve had a couple trainings, so I felt good about my game. Obviously happy that I got an opportunity to play, but disappointed with the result.”
It was the Canadians who picked up the first offensive opportunity of the game just twenty seconds from pushback, when Dutch-born Floris van Son saw Matthew Sarmento streaking behind the Netherlands defence and fed him the ball. But it was just out of his reach.
The Netherlands first real scoring chance came in the 5th minute when they picked up a penalty corner on a video referral. That’s when Kindler made his first big save, turning away a hard drag flick from Mink van der Weerden with his blocker hand.
Canada then had another chance in transition when a ball popped loose to Sarmento in the middle of the field and he attempted a first-touch backhand to Mark Pearson, who would have been in all alone. But the pass was too far ahead of him.
Kindler was tasked with making another handful of saves in the next several minutes, before the Dutch were finally able to get one by him.
In the 14th minute, van der Weerden was given another chance to flick, and this time beat Kindler with a ball that took a deflection on its way by.
The Netherlands took the 1-0 lead into the second quarter.
Canada pushed back early, when Pearson stick-handled his way through a few Dutch defenders in the opposition circle, but the keeper slid out to knock the ball away before Pearson could direct it on goal.
The Netherlands thought it had doubled the lead in the 26th minute, but a goal was overturned when a video review ruled there was a dangerous ball played into Pearson prior to the ball going in.
That opened the door for the Canadians, who were awarded a penalty stroke in the final minute of the half after Brenden Bissett was taken down in the circle by the keeper. The Netherlands asked for a review, but lost.
Scott Tupper stepped up to the spot and converted for Canada, his second penalty stroke goal of the tournament, tying the game 1-1 heading into the half.
“I think it’s a testament to the growth of our team, that we now give ourselves a chance in these games against top five teams,” Kindler adds. “What it comes down to is just details. It’s about development as a good team, to one that’s better than good.”
Canada wasn’t able to get to that next level, however, in the second half. A third quarter goal by Joorit Croon and fourth quarter goal from Mirco Pruijser ended up being the difference in the 3-1 Netherlands win.
“I think the mood for the next couple hours is going to be one of a bit of an opportunity lost with this game. But we’ll shift the focus on to the Scotland game.”