With one final chance to play in front of their home crowd before heading to Spain for the World League Semi-Finals, the Canadian Women’s Field Hockey Team made good on home field advantage with a 3-2 victory over Ireland Wednesday at the new Pan Am Fields in Toronto.
Canada entered the match down 2-1 in the four game series with Ireland and was hoping to end on a high note by tying the series.
It wasn’t long before the game’s first goal, as to the delight of the home crowd, Karli Johansen converted on a penalty corner in the fifth minute to give Canada a 1-0 lead.
The first three matches were fairly evenly played, so Canada knew building on the their lead would be key in improving their chances in taking the final game.
It was veteran forward Thea Culley, playing in her 131st international match for Canada, who ended up putting Canada ahead by two off a high tip in the eighteenth minute.
Down by two just minutes into the second quarter, Ireland quickly responded to keep the game within reach when Naomi Carroll was able to put the ball by Canadian goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams in the twenteith minute.
Canada, not to be outdone, responded a minute later as some fancy stickwork from Stephanie Norlander resulted in a Canadian goal and the 3-1 lead.
Williams was forced to make a kick save in the dying moments of the half to keep Canada’s lead at two after thirty minutes. She also had to be sharp ealy in the second half as Ireland continued to pressure, but after three quarters the score remained 3-1 for Canada.
Ireland finally converted in the fourth and final quarter, as with eleven minutes to play, Megan Frazer scored on a penalty corner to bring the visitors within one.
While Ireland continued to press, the Canadians cotninued to look in control, coming up with strong defensive stops when needed. Ireland couldn’t manage to find the equalizer, giving Canada the win and their second win of the series.
True to form, the two teams – who have played several closed matches over the last year – split the four game series, with two wins a piece.
Both teams will now head to Valencia, Spain to participate in the World League Semi-Finals from June 10th-21st. The top three finishers at World League in Spain qualify for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.