Field Hockey Canada > Canada seeing steady improvement ahead of World League 2 quarterfinal

Tournament hockey can be as unpredictable as it gets. With each result influencing the next match and positioning for matches to come, what a team must focus on is the oldest cliché in sports: one game at a time.

The Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Team has not only been able to do just that so far at Women’s World League Round 2 in Dublin, Ireland, but they have been able to do so while making steady progress in each match.

“I think every game in a tournament mode like this, you want to be making improvements day to day and I think we’re doing that,” says Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge.

The reason the Canadian women have been able to do this, according to Rutledge, is because of a team philosophy adopted when Rutledge took over the reigns about two years ago.

“The big thing for us is that we must play our game and do it our way,” he says. “We want to be opposition aware and Canada focused.”

It’s a mentality the team is buying in to, a reason why they’ve seen early success at World League Round 2, and what they’ll have to stick to if they hope to finish in the top two and move on to the World League Semi-Finals in June.

“As a team we’ve been looking to play an aggressive style,” says forward Hannah Haughn, who is coming off a two-goal performance in Canada’s final pool-stage match, a 3-1 win against Ukraine. “I think our pressing structure and quick free hits, particularly in the first and third games, really made the difference for us.”

In Thursday’s quarterfinal, Canada faces Austria, the third ranked team in Pool B, which won one game and lost two others in the preliminary round. And while the Canadians had hoped to finish in first in Pool A (they finished second to Ireland, after a 2-1 loss to the host nation on Sunday), they take solace in being able to finish pool play strong.

“The loss to Ireland added fuel to our fire for the match (vs. Ukraine),” adds Haughn. “We knew Ukraine were going to come to compete with second place in the pool on the line.”

Having won a game with high stakes and achieved their goal of finishing second after the loss to Ireland, Canada enters the elimination round with confidence.

“We’re playing an attacking brand of hockey that’s generating goals in possession, and aggressive defensive that’s also generating opportunities for us high up on the pitch as well,” Rutledge explains. “I think we’re getting there. We’re getting to the place we need to be at the right time.”

The quarterfinal between Canada and Austria takes place at 3:30am PST/7:30am EST on Thursday. 

The top two finishers at World League 2 gain an entry into World League Round 3 in Spain in June, where the top teams will earn a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Cick here for Canada’s World League 2 schedule and results.