Men’s team secures bronze medal with 5-2 win over Guyana
On October 16, the indoor national teams started their five-day final quest for 2018 World Cup qualification at the Indoor Pan American Cup in Georgetown, Guyana. With one bid available in each division, both national team coaches knew that qualifying would require the teams to deliver top-level performances throughout the entire tournament.
On the men’s side, coach Scott Sandison said, with the exception of one stretch in the Trinidad and Tobago game, his team performed very well all tournament long.
“The plan in that game was to play each quarter as individual quarters. If we could win each quarter, then we’d be in a good place,” Sandison said. “There were about one and half minutes in that game where the wheels just came off.”
Despite a disappointing 7-5 semi-final loss to the eventual champions, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada put together a strong finish defeating Guyana 5-2 in the bronze medal match. Rookie goal keeper, Adam Kapasi, delivered a standout performance en route to the victory.
“It was probably our best team performance of the week,” Sandison said. “We battled through the disappointment from the semifinals and Adam stepped up on a big stage.”
Ken Pereira reaches 400 CAPs and Jonathan Roberts recognized as tournament top player
The first game of the tournament marked a huge milestone for Ken Pereira. 400 international CAPs, the most by any Canadian field hockey player. Sandison said Pereira is an inspiration to everyone he plays with.
“Ken is a phenomenal athlete and an incredible team guy,” he said. “He is a leader by example and a living legacy. To be coaching him in his 400th CAP was really special.”
Pereira said he is honoured to have had such amazing opportunities throughout the years and is looking forward to continuing his contribution.
“It’s a bit crazy. When you start playing, you never think you are going to play that many games,” Pereira said. “I’ve had a lot of great coaches and a lot of great teammates and that’s what keeps me coming back.”
At the age of 45, Pereira said he will continue to play and advance the indoor game as much as he can.
“If my body holds up and I can still help the team, I’ll be there,” Pereira said. “And if we can promote indoor across all of Canada then we’ll have a stronger program moving forward.”
As a final high note for Team Canada, Jonathan Roberts was named player of the tournament and top goal scorer in the men’s division. Sandison said a transition of his role throughout the tournament allowed him to find the net more.
“He’s a veteran of the indoor game. He swayed the momentum in a lot of ways.”
Roberts finished the tournament on a high note, scoring three goals in Canada’s bronze medal victory.
Women’s team narrowly misses the podium
On the women’s side, Canada finished 4-2 in pool play setting up a bronze medal match with Uruguay. A late goal by Uruguay’s Camila de Maria iced the game and left Team Canada one spot shy of a podium finish.
Canadian coach Louis Mendonca, said the team was right in these games and knows things could have been different on a different day.
“We played really well on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “All we needed were a few more bounces to go our way and to score a couple more goals in crucial situations.”
As Mendonca said prior to the tournament, the team featured a nice blend of veteran players and young talent. He said that the event provided the younger players with some great international experience.
“The young kids had no fear, they played really well,” Mendonca said. “We are not very far away from being right there at the top of the world stage. Right now, I’m feeling very optimistic.”
Kathryn Williams honoured as tournament top goal keeper
Canada’s starting goal keeper, Kathryn Williams put on a terrific performance top to bottom last week in Georgetown. Mendonca said that her leadership and experience helped guide the younger players.
“She’s a winner. This is her third Pan Ams and she has World Cup experience. She’s played for a winning program at U of T,” Mendonca said. “She was a good captain and worked very well with younger players.”
Williams knew her role as a leader and felt she did her best to set a good example for her teammates.
“I wanted to show the effort it takes, I gave everything I could possibly give every game,” Williams said. “One thing we worked on was communication. Letting my teammates know where players are on the court, keeping everyone involved.”
Thanks largely in part to Williams, Canada finished the tournament only allowing 11 goals. For a team that didn’t produce offensively that well, keeping balls out of the net was hugely important. Her performance earned her the nod as tournament top goal keeper. An accolade that only fuels her for next cycle.
“This was one of the best teams I’ve played on. Everyone played with so much character,” She said. “I’m inspired and our whole team wants to improve.”
Athletes, coaching staff and support teams will now hit the drawing board and get started on a plan to improve the programs and earn that coveted qualification to the next World Cup. Both Williams and Mendonca said the program needs to start earlier and play more international matches leading up to the next Pan American Cup.
“We definitely have to prepare ourselves that much better next cycle,” Mendonca said. “We need to find a way to get started earlier if we are going to get to the top of the world stage.”