Photo Credit: Andrés Mallén
The Canadian Women’s National Team is one step closer to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after completing a successful run at the Hockey Series Open last week in Salamanca, Mexico. With four wins in four matches, Canada finished in first place, in front of host nation Mexico.
Heading into the event, Canada was the number one seeded team and proved their dominance after a 28-0 victory over Guatemala on the second day of competition. The team followed the match with an 18-2 win over Puerto Rico the next evening.
Giles Bonnet, the newly appointed head coach, acknowledged the countless hours being put in by the Women’s National Team as they aim to strengthen their technique.
“The players are making considerable sacrifices in order to make themselves available in the upcoming 14-month period,” he said. “Their commitment and intrinsic motivation to improve…is highly motivating.”
The first two matches were notable for several reasons. Defender Karli Johansen celebrated her 100th career senior international match before the start of the match against Puerto Rico, while teammate Samantha McCrory scored six goals during her debut senior international match against Guatemala.
“I’m so proud to have received my 100th cap,” Johansen said. “I feel extremely grateful to be able to represent my country with this group of girls. We have big things planned in the next few years and it feels like a perfect way to kick off a busy summer of training and competing.”
Johansen expressed her gratitude for having emerging players on the team, stating that McCrory, who was one of the top scorers of the tournament, continues to inspire her greatly.
“[Sam] has been training with the senior group for a while now, and it’s amazing to see how quickly she is learning and improving every day. It pushes the rest of us to do the same,” she said.
Two days later, Canada won 8-1 against Mexico, at which McCrory scored another two goals. The team would go on to win 17- 0 against Panama to secure a series victory, conceding only three goals throughout the entire tournament.
Bonnet sees the Hockey Series Open as the first step in Canada’s ambition to compete in the Olympic Games. However, he recognizes that the road ahead won’t be easy.
“It’s very clear for us what a challenge [Tokyo 2020] will be,” he said. “We have chosen an ‘Everest’ to climb and we realize we will need to do this without oxygen,” Bonnet said.
The team has now arrived in Dublin, Ireland where they are participating in a 7-week excursion across Europe, training and competing against top European nations. It gives the Women’s National Team a firsthand opportunity to assess strengths and weaknesses and close potential gaps ahead of the next training phase in September 2018.
For more information, check out the tournament website. Stay tuned to Field Hockey Canada’s social media for updates on the Women’s National Team in the coming weeks.
Canada goes undefeated at the 2018 Hockey Series Open in Salamanca, Mexico. Photos: Andrés Mallén