When the Women’s National Team packed their bags and headed off to Peru, they were doing so with a hope of returning as Olympic qualifiers. Although admittedly a tough task, Canada will look for a strong tournament after a fantastic second place finish at the Hockey Series Finals in Valencia, Spain. Head Coach Giles Bonnet knows that in order to do this, they’ll have to cause upsets along the way.
“We are the lowest ranked team of the mainstream countries participating and normally we should fall outside of the medals following Argentina (2), USA (13) and Chile (15),” said Bonnet. “Our aim in Lima is to do everything to create an upset at this event and change this status quo.”
|Amanda Woodcroft||Waterloo, ON||110||MID|
|Anna Mollenhauer||Victoria, BC||4||MID|
|Brienne Stairs||Kitchener, ON||158||FWD|
|Dani Hennig||Kelowna, BC||183||DEF|
|Elise Wong||Vancouver, BC||8||MID|
|Hannah Haughn||Vancouver, BC||174||MID|
|Holly Stewart||North Vancouver, BC||87||FWD|
|Kaitlyn Williams||White Rock, BC||132||GK|
|Karli Johansen||North Vancouver, BC||128||DEF|
|Kate Wright||Kingston, ON||211||MID|
|Maddie Secco||Victoria, BC||122||FWD|
|Natalie Sourisseau||Kelowna, BC||136||MID|
|Rachel Donohoe||North Vancouver, BC||71||MID|
|Sara McManus||Tsawwassen, BC||170||DEF|
|Shanlee Johnston||Vancouver, BC||110||DEF/MID|
|Steph Norlander||North Vancouver, BC||109||FWD|
Team Canada currently has a solid balance of veteran players and young-rising talent. Players like Captain Kate Wright, Dani Hennig, Hannah Haughn and Sara McManus are all at the top of Canada’s all-time cap leaderboard.
“They’ve been through it all,” said Canada forward Steph Norlander. “Tactically, they can fall back on things and have hockey skills that maybe some of us younger players don’t have. It’s nice to have them always surrounding us and lifting us up.”
Team Canada’s highest scoring player, Brie Stairs, once again showed off her amazing offensive senses and ability at the Hockey Series Finals in June, scoring eight goals in five games, winning the award as top scorer of the tournament. She will look to have another stellar offensive performance in Lima.
As far as the team as a whole goes, Bonnet is depending on the entire roster to create another upset in Lima.
“Each player is expected to perform in the position they play and in the role requested of them,” said Bonnet. “The team is incredibly motivated and the culture within the group is fantastic. Any success achieved comes from this strength of “team” and the fact that the players are totally invested in achieving.”
Game 1 vs Cuba | July 29 | Noon
Game 2 vs Argentina | July 31 | 4pm
Game 3 vs Uruguay | August 2 | 10am
Canada’s marquee group stage match is against Argentina, the third ranked team in the world. Although the team attitude does not change much when they prepare for the each game, they know they are going to have to do some extra work in order to be ready for the big game against Argentina.
“We’d like to prepare the same for all the games, but obviously some games are going to mean more than others,” said Norlander. “We have to prepare, making sure we do our homework just so we can be able to focus on our game as much as we can.”
Canada will also be under pressure in their other two games, in which they will go up against Cuba and Uruguay, the latter sitting at 25 in the world rankings.
“Uruguay is a team that is very capable and we have respect for the improvement they have made,” said Bonnet. “In Valencia in 2015 in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifier, they drew 1-1 with South Africa and narrowly lost 3-2 to Ireland. We expect a very tough match against them, especially as we look at their recent form and performance in Hiroshima at the FIH Final’s event.”
Team Canada is coming off an intense training camp leading up to the tournament, in which they trained and focused hard on any gaps that they may have going into Pan-Ams, and although they are tired, they’re ready and excited for this amazing experience.
“I feel like we’re still improving on that upward track and I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” said Karli Johansen. “Hopefully we can peak at this tournament and show everyone, and all our supporters everything we’ve put in. We’re continuing to prove how good we are and how good we can be.”
Canada’s first game of the tournament is on July 29th, when they take on Cuba in what Canada hopes to be the start of an amazing tournament. Follow the Field Hockey Canada event page for game results, photos and more.