Field Hockey Canada > Big first quarter leads Belgium past Canada at World League Final

(Photo credit: Yan Huckendubler)

A four goal first quarter from Belgium was too much for Canada to overcome, resulting in 7-2 loss Sunday at the Hockey World League Final in Raipur, India.

Canada’s second loss in as many games means it will have to win its last pool stage match and get some help in order to avoid finishing fourth in Pool A before heading to the quarterfinal.

After going down four goals early in the game, Canada was able to cut the lead in half by the third quarter. But the Belgians added to the lead with three goals in the final fifteen minutes to go on to victory.

“We started the game extremely tentatively,” says Canadian captain Scott Tupper. “And against a team that has as much firepower as they do, you’re going to find yourselves in holes. That was a learning experience for us.”

Canada started the game with possession but Belgium, the world’s seventh ranked team, quickly went on the offensive, scoring the game’s first goal in the ninth minute on a Sébastien Dockier deflection that got past Canadian keeper David Carter.

Dockier’s goal began a spell of conversions for the Belgians, in which they scored three goals in three minutes. Florent van Aubel, Thomas Briels, and Jérome Truyens scores in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth minutes respectively and it was suddenly 4-0 Belgium.

Carter was forced to make a good reaction save before the quarter ended, turning away an attempt from Simon Gougnard.

In the second quarter, Canada had improved its defensive shape and began to chip away at the Belgian lead.

In the twenty-eighth minute, nice work in the Belgium area from Gordon Johnston resulted in the first of a string of penalty corners for Canada.

Johnston was stopped on two attempts, and the third – taken by Scott Tupper – was also turned away but the ball opened into the air and Mark Pearson was there with quick hands to knock it in for his Canada’s first of the match and his second of the tournament.

Pearson’s goal gave Canada momentum heading into the second half.

After Antoni Kindler – who came into the game on a planned subsitutiuon of David Carter to start the the third corner – made a sensational leg save off Tom Boon on a Belgium penalty stroke in the thirty-seventh minute, Canada went back on the attack.

Adam Froese created a turnover in the Canadian end, which started a fast break and after some wonderful ball movement through the midfield and an advantage played by the umpire, Pearson found Devohn Noronha-Teixeira who flicked the ball into the top corner to cut the lead to 4-2 in the forty-fourth minute.

“Once we started stringing passes together and playing a little bit more gritty on the backend, we started to get some good flow in the game, make some good sequences up field and get some scoring opportunities,” adds Tupper. “I think that’s why we were able to come and get ourselves back into the game.”

It looked as though Canada might be able to continue clawing away at the Belgians and tie the game, but in the fiftieth minute Belgium was given a penalty corner and much like Pearson did in the third quarter, Arthur van Doren quickly hit the ball out of mid-air and past Kindler to give Belgium the 5-2 lead.

They would add two more in the fifty-fourth and fifty-eighth minutes and go on to the 7-2 win.

“The positives are that we played two of the four quarters very well,” says Tupper, who is one of two players on the Canadian roster (the other being Mark Pearson) who has played in a Olympic Games.

“If we’re looking for a positive we can start there and hopefully we can build on that moving forward.”

Canada will now face its toughest test of pool play when it takes on World No. 1, Australia, on December 1 at 5:00am PT/8:00am ET.

If the Canadians, who currently sit in fourth in Pool A, stay where they are after that match, they will face the top finisher in Pool B in the quarterfinal on Wednesday or Thursday.

Post-Game Interview – Scott Tupper: