It was always going to be the toughest match of the tournament when the Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Team faced World No.4 New Zealand in the final match of the round robin stage at the Irish Four Nations Tournament.
Coming off defeats in each of the first two round robin games, the Canadians were hoping to bounce back against the Blacksticks, who are a perenial field hockey powerhouse. And while the Canadian women held their own in the first half for the third straight game, in the end the New Zealand was too strong, winning 7-0.
“We’ve got to look at all the positives we can take out of the fisrt sixty-three minutes where we were doing well and the girls stuck to the plan and we were on target for a good performance,” says Women’s National Team Head Coach Ian Rutledge. “The last seven minutes, if we’re not careful, can take away from the performance in the first sixty three minutes.”
In the first half, the Canadians defended well and with the help of a great performance from keeper Kaitlyn Williams (White Rock, B.C.) kept the Blacksticks to only two goals, both coming from the stick of Krystal Forgesson, the first in the ninth minute and the second in the twenty-seventh.
In the second half New Zealand netted two early goals from Olivia Merry in the forty-first and fifty-first minutes.
With the game at 4-0, an impressive natural hat-trick late in the match from Anita Punt put things out of reach and capped off the win for the Blacksticks.
The Canadians finished the round-robin stage of the tournament with three losses, but are encouraged by their performance in each outing.
“Every game although the scorelines haven’t been great, especially late in the games, we’ve gotten better and better with our performances,” adds Rutledge. “We’ve made progress and adjustments each game. While I’m not happy with the scorelines, I’m happy with the progress we’re making at this stage ahead of the Commonwealth Games.”
Canada’s particiaption in the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Dublin was to give the sixteen athletes named to the Commonwealth Games team an opportunity to compete together prior to the Games opening on July 23.
Despite being winless in the first three games, the tournament has served its purpose according to Rutledge.
“It’s all part of the refinement,” says Rutledge. “We play every game to win, but more important at this stage of them game is that our performance is good. Even if we’re winning, we’ve got to make sure we separte performance and result and look at both independently.”
Canada will be looking for a positive resultin the final game of the tournament when they will face either Ireland or Chile in the 3rd place match on Wednesday at 5:00pm (local). Live updates can be found @IrishHockey.