Photos: INPHO Photography
Dublin — A capacity crowd at Donnybrook Stadium was electric for the first match of the FIH Olympic Qualifiers as Canada and Ireland played to a nil-nil draw.
The two teams faced tricky conditions tonight as rain was pelting down from the anthems all the way to the final hooter. The first half went in favour of the home team as they rode the home-crowd momentum to some early penalty corners. Terrific goalkeeping by Kaitlyn Williams and stingy defense by Team Canada weathered the storm.
Canada slowly mounted their pressured attacks in the second half. The rainy and cold conditions made for a lot of midfield play with neither team really able to mount too much through the middle of the game. Canada drove the pace in the second half, getting Ireland on their heels in their own zone.
Canadian captain, Kate Wright said in her post-match interview, that the team is familiar with rainy conditions and thought the team responded well. “We were ready for the weather. I’m very proud of my teammates for being gritty….We’re going to analyze the video and come out firing tomorrow.”
Canada takes on Ireland in the first of a two-game FIH Olympic Qualification Series. Photo/INPHO Photography
Canada earned a hard-working penalty corner in the fourth quarter, but the Irish goalkeeper, Ayeisha McFerran was equal to the task and came up with a big save. Canada had scattered chances as they controlled the majority of the possession in the second half. At the end of the match, neither team was able to get on the scoreboard. Both goalkeepers were big when they had to be.
Veteran defender, Dani Hennig said they’ve approached this series as eight quarters and knows they are only half way through. “As s we’ve seen from the other [qualifiers] over the past week, a lot can happen even in a single quarter. We go in with the same mindset tomorrow.”
The scoreless draw sets up a winner-takes all final match tomorrow. The Irish Women’s National Team has never qualified for the Olympic Games and Canada hasn’t made the big dance since 1992. Both teams will lay it all on the line in one final effort to punch their ticket to Tokyo.
WATCH SUNDAY LIVE: CBC Sports – Game 2 LIVE