Saturday June 22 marked the first match of the Canadian Women’s tour of Ireland at UC Dublin. This was a special day as we celebrated the first International caps for newcomers to the Canadian Squad: Holly Stewart, Karli Johansen, and Kaelan Watson as well as new head coach Ian Rutledge and physiotherapist Elliot Usher.
On the Irish side, Nikki Symmons earned her 200th cap, the most in the country’s history. The match was exciting from the start, with the young Canadian team pressing and attacking in the Irish 25. In the 11th minute Hannah Haughn netted the first goal of the game — calmy slipping the ball past the diving Irish keeper to put her team up 1-0.
Canada continued to apply pressure, with the Irish team swiftly counterattacking. They were able to earn 2 penalty corners, both of which were defended well by #1 runner Kate Gillis. However, they scored the equalizer in the 22nd minute on a quick flick that narrowly beat Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams.
Canada continued to fight through the Irish attack and the first half would conclude with both teams tied at one apiece.
Neither side exhibited any sign of relent and came out hard in the beginning of the second half. Canada worked hard with their outletting and, in the 40th minute were given another penalty corner, which was swept into the back of the goal by Sara McManus.
Down by one, the Irish went on the attack, successfully penetrating the Canadian circle, although they were stymied by Williams. The game would continue to go back and forth, with quick runs and intelligent play by the young Canadians.
In the 48th minute, with the sun finally shining at UCD, newcomer Holly Stewart slotted a reverse stick shot into the corner of the net to put Canada up by two. This was the result of masterful outletting and sustained attacking pressure.
As the game started to wind down, the Irish team sustained pressure and in the 61st minute were rewarded with their second goal of the match; a quick tip past the sprawling Williams. However, this would be all for the Irish squad as the Canadians demonstrated composure and held on for a 3-2 victory.
Overall, the Canadian squad were satisfied with the result and performance. This tour marks the first step on their road to the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. They’re looking forward to another hard fought match tomorrow afternoon.