Field Hockey Canada > The USA-Canada Challenge starts today!

The USA-Canada Challenge starts today!

April 4, 2012 | Field Hockey Canada |

The Women’s Junior National Team is ready to play.  Today is the first day of the USA-Canada Challenge, a four-match test series against the USA’s Junior National Teams.  Canada’s U17 and U21 teams reunited in Vancouver on Friday to prepare for this week’s competition.  Members of the U21 Team have been training on university teams and clubs across North America – but they have come together this week to compete for Team Canada.  How is the team feeling as they enter their first day of the series?  We caught up with four athletes to find out.

1) Mary Nielsen of Cowichan, BC
2) Lauren Logush of Richmond Hill, ON
3) Abigail Raye of Kelowna, BC
4) Emma Plasteras of North Vancouver, BC


MN: This is the beginning for us. We have a goal – to qualify for the 2013 Junior World Cup. This is the first step for us.
LL: This is a chance for us to play together and develop our own system of play. Also, the U.S.A. will be a major competitor at the Junior Pan American Championships this September, so it will act as an effective measuring stick as we move forward into the summer.
AR: The USA-Canada Challenge is important for us because it is the first time we have really played together – and game experience is crucial for team development and implementing new tactics.
EP: The Junior Program has been restructured and changed over the past while, and this series, in a way, sets up our new program for the future. Playing against the US will enable to us to see where we stand at the international level and get us ready to compete in future competitions.    


MN: I’m very excited.  We have been planning and practicing since December, so it’s rewarding to finally be able to let out everything we’ve been training, together on the field.
LL: I’m really excited, it’s a great opportunity to play at a high level of competition and represent Canada.
AR: I’m looking forward to it – it’s a great opportunity to continue to build as a team. It’s also a great bonus that we get to feel the support of a home crowd!
EP: I’m very excited.  We have a really talented group, so this is a fun chance for us to play together and improve as we showcase our ability to compete at a high level. 


MN: Simply the best.  When we’re together again, it reminds us of the days when we played on the same Provincial Teams. It’s so great to be on the field with some old friends – and telling to be with people I’ve never played with before.
LL: It’s a lot of fun seeing all the girls again after being apart for months, whether we’re billeting or staying at hotels, it’s always a great time. In terms of hockey, I feel like we’re all able to bring different skills and perspectives to the team which definitely benefits us as a whole.
AR: There’s definitely a lot of energy when the team reunites.  Everyone brings something to the team; there are a lot of strong players and personalities.
EP: When we reunite after playing for our different teams it’s always a lot of fun! The majority of us have been playing together since we were younger, so we have really good chemistry. It’s always nice and exciting to come back and play with a group of not only teammates, but friends, who share the same goals and aspirations with you.


MN: I’m confident with the talent and the preparation we’ve had. It will be interesting to see the first game, how we all align. It takes adjusting and time to have us all work together with our different styles, so once we get into the groove I think it’ll be very exciting to watch.
LL: This will only be my second time representing Canada on the international stage, so it’s great to play with some of the more experienced players. It will also be really cool to play in front of a home crowd, possibly a little nerve-racking, but I’m looking forward to having a lot of supporters cheering for us.
EP: I feel really confident going into the series. We have a really great group – everyone is talented and ready to show people what we can do and that we’re ready for the next level. Our coaching staff has helped us adapt to the intensity and style of play that it takes to be successful at the international level, so this series serves as a chance for our team to execute what we’ve learned. 


MN: Win every match.  I also want to help the team out any way I can.
LL: Sweep all four games – we really want to perform well.  Personally, I’m hoping to gain more international experience and to grow more familiar with our system of play. 
EP: Score some goals for the team and really take it to the Americans.  Also, have our team work really well and cohesively, which will make us successful.