Story contributed by Tristan Urry
Antwerp, Belgium — After six games against top junior national, the Junior Women’s National Team walked away from Belgium with has three draws and three losses.
Match one: 6-0 loss against the Netherlands.
Match two: 0-0 draw with Belgium.
Match three: 2-0 loss against Ireland.
Match four: 0-0 draw with India.
Match five: 2-1 loss against Great Britain.
Match six: 0-0 draw with Ireland.
The JWNT has been working hard to refine their skills as of late and according to the athletes, it showed in their performances against strong sides.
“I think we were all pretty proud of how we played against India. We came out with a lot of intensity and successfully implemented a new press that we had been working on. We’ve improved substantially since the first practice match that we played against India and today’s result shows that,” said Canadian defender, Sara Goodman.
Rowan Harris, a member of Canada’s senior national team who is also playing with the JWNT this week said the team has shown improvement in their games and that these high-calibre international matches are important stepping stones.
“It felt like we were finally clicking with our press, structure and our outlets today. It was good to see that we were executing what we want to be doing and have the players where we want them to be. The India game was a really good step forward for this team,” Harris said.
“Our first game against the Netherlands was not quite what we wanted, but they went scoreless for two quarters in that game and that shows we’re not to be forgotten and the Canadian JWNT is a team that is on the rise,” Margaret Pham said. The Canadian striker said that the team’s defense has improved steadily, really coming into their own in their tie against Belgium.
Harris noticed an improvement in the team structure now that the players have got a feel for each other. “Our first couple of games were a little hard, we were playing three players short so the flow of the game was a bit off. We’re really starting to get a feel for each other and where our place is on the field.”
“The six nations tournament has been an incredible learning opportunity for us, getting to play against some of these top teams in this age category is a new experience for all of us and I think we have been competing quite well. GB is a very good team and disciplined in their structure, but I think we have a good shot against them,” said Goodman.
The JWNT was extremely proud to have one of their own be recognized as the ‘Best Female Player’ of the tournament on Saturday evening. Twenty-one year old Alexis, De Armond received her award after the final match of the tournament during the closing ceremonies.
“It was a tight game, in the end, unfortunately, we ended up losing the shootout against Ireland but it was a great tournament for us overall. This was a big day for me, I signed with my first club and received the ‘Best Female Player’ of the tournament award on the same day. It’s been great getting to know everyone, I think going forward this team will make huge strides in the international scene.” said Alexis (Lexi) De Armond.
JWNT Head Coach, Shiaz Virjee has seen phenomenal growth with the JWNT during their summer program so far. The JWNT started their summer with a camp at UVIC, then went up to the Shawnigan Lake School for another two-week camp before playing the Chile Series in Victoria. The team just finished their time in Europe at the Six Nations Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium at the Royal Antwerp Hockey Club.
“This team has played well at each stage, you can see how much they have improved every two weeks to get up to this level. We don’t get a chance to play the European teams too often, so this has been great for us. We had three draws and lost the shootout in our last game today but the girls have just been phenomenal. The learning curve has been steep, but they have done very well and I am extremely proud of them. For our athlete to be named the best female player of the tournament is incredible. This is a great achievement for Lexi and for our team,” said Virjee.
The team will continue their growth and forward momentum with a camp at UVIC in August before the team separates for the fall curriculum.