Field Hockey Canada > Counterattack leads China past Canadian women at World League Semifinals

In its first match of the World League Semifinals, the Canadian Women’s Field Hockey Team fell prey to the counterattack dropping a 3-0 decision to China Wednesday in Valencia, Spain.

The match was fairly evenly played on the surface, but it was the speed and execution in transition that ended up being the difference for the World No. 7 Chinese.

“We’re obviously disappointed, but I think we played a strong game,” says Canadian captain Kate Gillis. “Were definitely the underdog, and we were very happy with our first half, but definitely not satisfied with the whole game.”

Canada, ranked twentieth in the world, played an impressive first quarter, not only keeping the game scoreless, but also applying pressure throughout the first fifteen.

In the second quarter, however, the Chinese counterattack capitalized on an early opportunity.

A fairly harmless ball bounced its way into open space, finding Wei Ma who picked it up and quickly fired a heavy backhand shot passed Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams for the 1-0 lead in the seventeenth minute.

China had a couple of opportunities after the goal, but seemed content to sit back and protect the lead, hoping for a Canadian turnover to take advantage.

The turnover didn’t come for rest of the first half. In fact, it was Canada which had the best opportunity before half time, when Abigail Raye’s long hit into the circle just missed an open Thea Culley at the back post.

China carried the 1-0 lead into halftime, but Canada was happy with their performance, having had seventy percent of possession and equaling China with six circle penetrations.

The first few minutes of the second half mimicked the first thirty minutes, but in the thirty-eighth minute, China’s quick transition game was able to break through again.

A nice string of passes resulted in Yang Peng having a step on the Canadian defense. She was tackled in the circle but while going to ground was able to sneak the ball by Williams for the 2-0 lead.

China added another in the fifty-first minute on a penalty corner deflection by Jiaojiao De.

Despite being down three goals, the Canadians did not relent in their pressure and continued to try and break through the Chinese wall.

Their effort and intensity was clear, but it went unrewarded. Canada was unable to produce any quality chances to get back in the game.

“We’re a strong defending team so we take pride in that, but making sure on the other side of that we’re going on the attack and making the most of our opportunities” adds Gillis on where the Canadians can improve.

Canada will look to earn its first goal and first win of the tournament on Thursday at 8am PT/11am ET when they face their Pan American rival Argentina, who are ranked sixth in the world.

The Canadians then have back-to-back games on the weekend against Spain and Great Britain.

All matches can be watched live on

Click here for Canada’s full World League Semifinals schedule and results.