Photo: Yan Huckendubler
All eyes will be on the Canadian Women’s National Team this weekend as they vie for their first Olympic appearance since 1992. The 18-woman roster is features chemistry, skill and creativity. Captain Kate Wright sets the new cap record every time she touches the turf, and she leads an experienced and balanced bunch into Dublin for a two-game aggregate series with an Olympic berth on the line.
Stalwart defenders, Sara McManus, Karli Johansen and Dani Hennig headline a world-class backfield. With 500 caps between the three of them, they are a steady, experienced force. Defenders, Alison Lee, Shanlee Johnston, Kat Leahy and Elise Wong offer hard-working and determined support to the ‘big 3,’ keeping the ball out of Canada’s zone and pushing the pace into the mid and attacking areas.
Moving through the midfield, Canada has creativity in bunches with Natalie Sourisseau, Amanda and Nikki Woodcroft and Maddie Secco. Sourisseau is physical and poised and advances the ball to the attacking zone. She seemingly has the power to make something out of nothing with her skill and ball-handling.
The forward group is highlighted by record-holding goal-scorer Brie Stairs. Stairs has been filling the net since her debut with the national team in 2011 and she continues her tear in 2019. Captain Wright, Hannah Haughn, Steph Norlander and Rachel Donohoe provide goal-scoring depth and work tirelessly in the attacking zone.
The goaltending duo of Kaitlyn ‘Rocky’ Williams and Rowan Harris provides solid support in net. Williams is in the peak of her career and has been tremendous over the last two years between the pipes for Canada. She back-stops a stingy Canadian team that has only allowed an average of 1.2 goals per game since the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Canada is coming in ranked as underdogs at 15th in the world against an Irish team at 8th coming off a silver medal at the 2018 World Cup. This Olympic Qualifier series has all the makings of a classic matchup and the action starts on Saturday.
Canadian residents can watch the games on CBC Sports television as well as stream the game live via cbcsports.com. Outside of Canada, the games can be viewed on fih.live, the international body’s streaming service.
GAME 1 LINK: https://gem.cbc.ca/live/1629354051856?cmp=Gem_Sports_NSO_FHC_FieldHockey_11022019
GAME 2 LINK: https://gem.cbc.ca/live/1629359683582?cmp=Gem_Sports_NSO_FHC_FieldHockey_11032019
Field Hockey Canada Event Page: http://www.fieldhockey.ca/event/olympic-qualifier-series-canada-vs-ireland/