Field Hockey Canada > Canada open scoring despite pool-play loss to powerful Leonas

Canada open scoring despite pool-play loss to powerful Leonas

Ali Baggott, for Field Hockey Canada

July 7, 2022 | Field Hockey Canada |

Delmotte surprises Argentina with game’s opening goal

Terrassa, Spain – It was always going to be a challenge for the world-ranked No. 14 Canadian WolfPack up against recently crowned FIH Pro League Champions and world-ranked No. 2 Argentina for the final match up of Pool C play at the FIH World Cup in Terrassa, Spain. While Canada got the game’s opening goal, through youngster Grace Delmotte (North Vancouver, B.C.), the skillful Leonas scored in each quarter to take the game 7-1 and seal their spot atop of the pool.

While the final score was by a large margin, there were several highlights for the Canadians including a 150th international appearance for forward Maddie Secco (Victoria, B.C.). For Delmotte, it was a wonderful first international goal in her first very first tournament and it becomes just the third goal Canada has scored against Argentina since 2013.

“I got my first cap here and now first goal which was so exciting today and I’ve learned a lot,” said Delmotte after the game.

For goalkeeper Marcia LaPlante (Waasis, N.B.), in her first start and appearance at the World Cup, she made several superb saves against a world class penalty corner unit. Argentina went four-from-16 on their penalty corners, with LaPlante denying attempts from drag flicking ace Agustina Gorzelany on numerous accounts.

“Obviously losing by six goals in the World Cup is never something you enjoy,” said Canadian head coach Rob Short after the game – someone who is no stranger to World Cup play having competed himself in the 1998 and 2010 men’s events. “It’s obviously a very impressive Argentina team but we didn’t play very well. Today wasn’t our best performance. We played really well in the first two matches of the tournament so we are a disappointed group today but we are playing for ninth place now and we want to push and play well.”

While Gorzelany had an early chance go wide on a penalty corner flick in the third minute of play it was Canada that won the race to be first on the board. A quick attack down the right side found the stick of skipper Natalie Sourisseau (Kelowna, B.C.). Sourisseau, with her head down, smashed the ball into the circle and found the stick of Secco near the stroke mark. Secco though she might catch the next touch towards goal but the ball popped behind three Argentine defenders and fell favourably for Delmotte to tap in to the open goal.

Canada’s lead was short lived as just four minutes later the Leonas responded. Traffic in the circle gave a deflection away to Julieta Jankunas who patiently drew Sara McManus (Tsawwassen, B.C.), curled, and slipped the ball short side past LaPlante’s right foot to tie the game 1-1.

McManus was forced to sit for seven minutes of the first half after a two-minute green card and five-minute yellow card, the latter of which came from a sliding tackle on Argentine defender Valentina Costa. The physicality and desperation showed just how passionate and into the game Canada was from start to finish.

A 1-1 score line was all that stood between the teams after the first quarter break but with McManus still serving the remaining minutes of her yellow card, Argentina were off to the races in the third quarter. Sofia Toccalino drew three Canadian defenders to the baseline before finding a wide open Victoria Granatto for the Leonas’ second goal.

Canada weathered several Argentine penalty corners and it would be wrong not to mention the brave and steady running out by defender Karli Johanssen (North Vancouver, B.C.). Johanssen wore multiple Gorzelany flicks on her body and continued to bravely run out. In the 21st minute the Leonas were forced to move their battery wide of Johanssen and Gorzelany was able to find Maria Granatto at the back post for Argentina’s first penalty corner goal and third in the game.

Canada thought they might cut the lead when a bouncing ball fell for Hannah Haughn (North Vancouver, B.C.) and Brienne Stairs (Kitchener, Ont.) behind the Argentine defence but they couldn’t muster a shot and seasoned keeper Belen Succi was able to clear it.

Before half time, LaPlante made a brilliant reaching glove save on yet-another Gorzelany penalty corner flick. In the other end, Delmotte was also in good position for a cross that came firing through the circle from the left side but she couldn’t get a stick on it and the game remained 3-1 at half time.

Before the game coach Rob Short said he wanted to just focus on Canada’s game. Short then noted at half time: “It’s tough when you go down a player for seven minutes so we got pushed back a little bit but we’re still in the match and we will keep going with what we are doing.”

Argentina wasted no time getting to work in Canada’s end. The Granatto sisters, Victoria and Maria, combined for a chance just seconds in to the third quarter but the ball went wide. Argentina earned their fourth goal on the lengthy reach from Agustina Albertarrio who picked McManus’ pocket and was all alone to blast one into the far corner for a 4-1 Leonas lead.


Photo Credit: Yan Huckendubler

Despite the score margin widening, reprieves of defensive brilliance continued to shine as LaPlante made a diving stick-side save on another booming flick from Gorzelany, while at the post, Kathleen Leahy (Victoria, B.C.) denied a penalty corner blast from Valentina Raposo. From there, Johanssen charged out to deny back-to-back penalty corner attempts from Gorzelany and an option to Raposo.

In the 38th minute LaPlante also denied a sliding Jankunas at the far post. The ball was deflected over but the back of LaPlante’s heel kept the ball out. It was only minimizing the damage as Maria Forcherio smashed a penalty corner goal into the bottom corner, while Gorzelany buried two more in the fourth quarter.

In the final minutes, good pressure from Stairs forced the Argentine defence to clear the ball off the back line for a Canadian penalty corner. McManus had her initial sweep hit the foot of the first runner and the second and third re-awards were saved by the keeper, Clara Barberi, and then blocked and cleared.

While the final score was 7-1, there were some bright moments of positive takeaways for the WolfPack, who have faced very little international competition relative to Argentina since the pandemic.

Up next Canada will play on Jul. 11 at 12:30 pm Pacific / 3:30 pm Eastern against India who lost to Spain in the qualifying cross-over between 2nd in Pool B and 3rd in Pool C. Canada begin their push towards the 9-12th bracket.

“There are some tired bodies,” added Short. “They laid it out there for sure. I’m very proud of the work ethic and the grit. Tomorrow is a nice day off to relax, recover and then we’re back to practice the next and we will continue to prepare. We are very excited and there’s lots to play for.”



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