Ali Baggott, for Field Hockey Canada
Terrasa, Spain – It was the heart break that Canada was just minutes away from avoiding as an Indian goal in the 58th minute tied the game 1-1 and 16 shootout attempts landed 3-2 in favour of the No. 9-ranked Eves. Maddie Secco (Victoria, B.C.) scored on a penalty corner in the 11th minute to put Canada on the front foot but the WolfPack were forced to absorb waves of Indian pressure and ultimately concede the tying goal to Tete Salima in the 58th minute.
“I’m still really proud of the team effort,” said goal scorer Secco who celebrated her 150th international cap just days ago. “It was probably our best game to date in the tournament. We played to our strengths. It’s not every day you get to play against No. 9 India so it was exciting to get a goal, too. We are obviously so disappointed but I’m also very proud of our goalkeeper (Rowan Harris) to save so many shootouts.”
FT: CAN 🇨🇦 1 (2) – 1 (3) 🇮🇳 IND
A heartbreaking end to a game that Canada led up until the dying moments. It was déjà vu as the Pack conceded a goal late into the match that would ultimately result in a loss.
They play once more on the 13th to determine overall standings. pic.twitter.com/Z7cf62LPgd
— Field Hockey Canada (@FieldHockeyCan) July 11, 2022
Both teams came to this match looking for their first win of the competition. For India, the disappointment of losing to Spain just the previous evening looked to be hanging heavy on the minds of the athletes as they prepared for the first quarter.
“Positives are that the team stuck to the game plan that we thought would get us the win and they followed it to a tee,” said head coach Rob Short. “They showed a lot of grit and definitely had no fear facing a team that was just fourth at the Olympics and are No. 9 in the world. I’m super, super proud of this team. They are doing special things. It’s just so tough not to see them get their reward. ”
Photo Credit: Yan Huckendubler
The opening minutes of the game looked as though India were more than ready to get on the board first but after waves of attack, with minimal shots on goal, it was Canada that found their footing. Hannah Haughn (North Vancouver, B.C.) raced down the right side of the pitch, cut into the India circle showing off some quality lifted skills to move past both Pradhan Nikki and Ekka Deep Grace. Haughn was able to find Brienne Stairs (Kitchener, Ont.), who made no mistake volleying the ball in past Indian keeper Savita but a penalty corner was blown just before. Natalie Sourisseau’s (Kelowna, B.C.) initial shot on her back-hand was deemed a back stick but moments later Amanda Woodcroft (Waterloo, Ont.) put Canada back at the top of the circle. This time, Karli Johansen’s (North Vancouver, B.C.) faked the flick and Woodcroft laid it off to Sara McManus (Tsawwassen, B.C.) and down to the injector, Kathleen Leahy (Victoria, B.C.). Leahy managed to muster a pass across goal to a waiting Secco who one-timed it in for a fabulous go-ahead goal just 11 minutes into the game.
While the score remained 1-0 until the 58th minute, Canada had to weather wave after wave of Indian attack. In the second quarter Katariya Vandana found the stick of Kaur Navneet but her one-timer was denied by Rowan Harris (Ottawa, Ont.) at the near post. McManus was called to action to block an attempt by Devi Sharmila and Lalremsiami had the best chance after she picked Sara Goodman’s (Duncan, B.C.) pocket and blasted a cross into traffic but the Indian forwards couldn’t get a stick on it.
Canada struggled through the third and fourth quarter but did have moments of attacking brilliance. Anna Mollenhauer (Victoria, B.C.) made a fabulous midfield transfer to find Johansen on the right side of the pitch. Johansen’s aerial down the field caught a streaking Stairs who earned Canada a penalty corner. Johansen’s flick low and stick side was cleared by Savita. From there Canada looked to settle back in to their half and play a more defensive game. India wasted no time pouncing.
India had 10 penalty corners in the second half. Harris did well to stymie what she could but it was Indian flicker Kaur Gurjit who seemed really off her game. Finally, while it wasn’t the cleanest of executions, the ball was sent from Gurjit down to the injector and across to Tete, who desperately tapped the ball in on her second touch to tie the game 1-1.
More drama ensued as Canada earned a penalty corner seconds after the Indian goal. India referred the play but the video umpire favoured the penalty corner. Canadian flicker Johansen’s ball was delivered just wide of the net and under the diving stick of Secco.
Flashbacks to the exhaustion of going to a shootout were likely in the minds of veterans Stairs, Secco, Leahy, Haughn, Johansen and McManus as the last time they were on the world stage of this magnitude they lost in shootout heart-break to Ireland with a spot to the 2020 Olympics on the line.
Canada got off to a good start on the shootouts as Woodcroft’s quick hands opened the scoring after she slipped the ball in between Savita’s legs. Then, Harris denied Salima. Secco had her attempt reviewed in favour of a penalty stroke but Savita denied McManus from the spot. Harris then kept Nayer at bay. Canada’s Sourisseau blasted one in on her back-hand to make it 2-0 until Kaur Navneet cut the lead to one.
Sonika made it 2-2 and from there it was a series of saves and misses through sudden death. Finally, Nayer gave India the 3-2 lead and Leahy needed to tie it. Savita challenged Leahy, cleared it and left a squad of Canadians gutted after leading for 47 minutes in the game and after having a 2-0 advantage in the shootouts.
Photo Credit: Yan Huckendubler
“The end of the games always goes like that,” said Short commenting on the Canada late pressure and giving up goals late in the game to Korea in pool play and now India. “You have to manage it. I wish I had the real answer to that. It’s just not that easy. At that point of the game, I wish we had a bit more experience. You’re playing teams that play in the FIH Pro League and get 15-20 games of that level each year and we’re grinding away back in Vancouver. It’s no excuse but experience plays a big factor. If we had 10 of these moments in the last 12 months, it could look a little different. We will go back and look at what we could have done differently to ice this game but at the end of the day with two minutes to go and you’re playing a team like India you know they’re going to get at least one good chance like that.”
With the win, India are now in the race for the 9-12th place play-offs, where they will meet Japan. Canada will now face Korea in the 13-16 place matches. Canada will finish their World Cup campaign on Jul. 13 at 14:00 in Terrassa, Spain.
— International Hockey Federation (@FIH_Hockey) July 11, 2022
“Our target was to get to the top 12 but I thought we played well against Korea (in pool play)”, added Short on the team’s need to refocus for their final game. “We will make adjustments for sure. You know, it’s hard to win at the World Cup. (Wins) don’t come easy. If we can finish on a high, that would be huge for this group and they deserve it. They will have a tough evening tonight, probably won’t sleep but I have no doubt that they will be up for the next game.”
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