Photo Credit: Tristan Urry
After an undefeated tournament at the Hockey Series Open, the Canadian Women’s National Team nears the halfway point of a seven-week development tour across Europe. Complete with intense training sessions and highly anticipated matchups against top European teams, Canada kicked off their tour on June 15, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.
Under head coach Giles Bonnet, Canada began with a two-game SoftCo Series against the Irish National Team. With goals by Stephanie Norlander, Holly Stewart and Caashia Karringten, Canada won 3-0, starting the campaign in a winning fashion.
The first match against Ireland also marked Kathleen Leahy’s 50th international senior match, which Leahy was grateful for.
“Getting [to 50 caps] in the first place is great,” she said. “It’s cool to get to play with this team even once, so to play in the game and get a result was awesome. I feel like the team and I have come a long way, and it’s been awesome to be a part of that journey.”
Day two of the SoftCo Series saw a 1-1 draw between Canada and Ireland, with Canada’s only goal scored by Brienne Stairs in the fourth quarter after a penalty stroke from Ireland forced the Canadian team to trail from the 11th minute.
Canadian midfielder Shanlee Johnston emphasized the team’s desire to seek out a result and stated that they are using every match to move forward and improve their technique, especially when playing back-to-back matches.
“I think that [with] every game going forward, you always want to look for a result as a team and that result for us is a win,” Johnston said. “Especially against Ireland, we need to start showing that we can win games against teams that are ranked between where we’re ranked and the top 10.”
Match three of the tour in Amsterdam started on a high as Hannah Haughn celebrated her 150th appearance in an international senior match. However, it later proved to be difficult as Canada took on the number-one ranked team in the world, Netherlands. Canada dropped the match 8-0 after clinical passing combinations and quick attacks were made by the opposing team.
Natalie Sourisseau said that although the game proved to be a wake-up call, it also highlighted where Canada needs to improve.
“Playing teams of this calibre is really good for us because it shows us what we need to work on…There are still a lot of things we’re not getting right but also that we’re achieving. Every game is another opportunity to learn from,” Sourisseau said.
Two days later, Canada adapted after their first game and dropped their second match against Netherlands 1-0, an impressive improvement on Monday’s loss. The team barely had time to process the result before travelling to Velbert, Germany for a 3 Nations Tournament.
Canada drew 1-1 against sixth-ranked Germany, with a goal from a well-worked penalty corner by Johnston. Johnston described the goal as “something [Canada] planned and practised ahead of time”, stating that it was a tribute to how well the team has been playing recently.
“At this point, scoring against one of the top teams feels like we deserve it,” she said. “It’s not like a shot in the dark anymore. It’s something we’ve put hard work into, and we’re right there with them.”
The next and final matchup saw Canada verse Ireland for the third time this month and featured Rachel Donohoe in her 50th international senior match. Canada tied the Irish 1-1, thanks to a goal by Sourisseau in the 34th minute.
“Getting to play these teams, you realize some of the things you need to work on and the bad habits you have because they expose you,” Sourisseau said after the match. “For us, we can learn a lot by being here.”
Next up: Canada plays a triple-header against the U21 Netherlands team this week in Amsterdam. For more information, check out the event page and follow our social media for match highlights and results.
Highlights from first week in Europe. Photo Credit: Tristan Urry