There really is no place like home. Just ask the Canadian Women’s Field Hockey Team, which opened the 2015 Pan American Games with a 12-1 win over the Dominican Republic Monday at the Pan Am Fields in Toronto.
The Canadians didn’t disappoint the home fans who came out in numbers, as team captain Kate Gillis, an Ontario native, and Stephanie Norlander scored three goals a piece in the the rout.
“I think it kind of flushes the cobwebs a bit,” says Gillis who is from Kingston, Ontario. “It gives us that first opportunity to get used to the pitch, get used to who we’re playing in front of.”
Understandably, the Canadians were a bit tentative to start but it wasn’t long before they began to dominate.
In the tenth minute, Norlander, who is playing in her first major multispot games, got Canada on the board and she was able to pounce on a ball in close and beat keeper Cindy de la Rosa.
“It feels amazing,” says North Vancouver’s Norlander. “Our first game and to come out and score so many goals and for me to get on the scoresheet three times, that’s awesome.”
A minute after Norlander opened the scoring, Gillis got her first of the game in similar fashion, before Karli Johansen scored on a penalty stroke in the fourteenth minute.
The Canadians were not comfortable with a 3-0 lead after one quarter, scoring another three in the second and taking a stranglehold into halftime.
Norlander scored got the first in the second quarter – as she did in the first – and Maddie Secco and Gillis followed up.
The Dominicans lone goal of the game came late in the half, when they were awarded a penalty stroke and Benifer Moronto beat Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams to her right.
Despite the 6-1 lead at half the Canada wasn’t entirely pleased.
“I think we were a bit nervous at first. Home crowd, first time playing on our brand new home turf,” adds Gillis. “But we stuck to our game plan and in the second half I think we really showed how we wanted to play.”
Canada added six more goals in the second half.
Both Norlander and Gillis scored for their hat tricks, while Johansen once again scored on a penalty stroke and Dani Hennig scored on two beautiful drag flicks from penalty corners. Thea Culley rounded out the scoring for Canadians.
It will be a whole different ball game come Wednesday when the Canadian women face the tournament’s top ranked team, Argentina. Game time is 4pm PT/7pm ET.