Field Hockey Canada > Indoor World Cup - Day 1

Indoor World Cup – Day 1

February 4, 2015 | Shaheed Devji |

Leipzig woke up under a blanket of snow, perfect mood setting for the beginning of the Indoor World Cup. The arena was bustling with school kids, who had been invited to support specific teams and did not need much encouragement from the MC to scream and shout.

(women) Austria vs. Canada: 1-0 (ht: 0-0)

The Canadian women had a tough program for their debut on the World Cup stage, facing Austria. The central Europeans, ranked fourth in the world, have the youngest team of the competition but nonetheless players with previous experience in two or even three Indoor World Cups, so are widely expected to do well in this competition.

After all these months of practice, it was a memorable moment for the young Canadians, who were holding each other tightly during the always emotional moment of the pre-game national anthems. Both teams started nervously, but the Canadians were prompt to get over their World Cup jitters and started to dominate play. They earned the first scoring opportunity on a penalty-corner, scored cleanly by Alison Lee, but the joy of the Canadian fans was quickly dampened by the umpire, ruling that the shot was taken before the ball went outside the circle.

Canada kept dominating the match, with Austria unable to get organized in front of the aggressive Canadian press. Canada had two more opportunities on penalty-corners, well saved by the Austrian defense, while KJ Williams at the other end in the Canadian goal was having a relatively uneventful half.

Half-time was reached on a goalless score but Austria scored immediately after the break on a penalty-corner. Play became more balanced for a while, then Canada regained domination of the proceedings with plenty of time on the clock. They however could not unlock the Austrian defense to make their domination count. Goal-keeper KJ Williams kept her team within reach with a decisive stop one-on-one in front of a lone Austrian attacker with a couple minutes of play.

Canada replaced their keeper with an extra attacker in the final minute of play, but the Austrian goal-keeper saved the 3-points result for the Europeans with a last second save from a busy situation in front of her. The Canadian women lost their opening match but certainly played at a high level, pleasantly surprising many observers.

(men) Netherlands vs. Canada: 3-1 (ht: 1-1)

The Canadian men were up next against the Netherlands, ranked 6th in the world, just one spot ahead of them. A harsh hors-d’oeuvre to the competition, especially knowing that the result of this match could already be decisive for the qualification to the quarter-finals.

Canada started firing on all cylinders and it took less than one minute to Devohn Noronha Teixeira to open the score with a decisive circle penetration followed by a perfectly executed reverse flick in a narrow angle! Canada kept dominating play for a while but the experienced Dutch players progressively settled down and play became balanced, very tactical, at a fast pace.

The Canadians missed a few patiently built chances, leaving the door opened to a Dutch equalization before the break, reached on the tied 1-1 score.

The Dutch did not waste time in second half and immediately went ahead. Canada kept their head cool and soon after forced a penalty-corner, the first of the match. It was retaken three times, with the final shot crashing on the post with the keeper nowhere close… It unfortunately would be the match turning-point. The Canadians never managed to regain enough control of the proceeding and were mostly dangerous on individual rushes rather than their trademark build-up.

They pulled the goalkeeper with still three minutes to go, but it backfired and the Netherlands added a cheeky third goal from an impossible angle.

(women) Germany vs. Canada: 8-1 (ht: 3-0)

The Canadian women were back on centre stage at the beginning of the evening, facing this time no other than the World Champions Germany, in front of their boisterous fans.

Germany had a slow start in their first match of the day against Belgium, but this time they jumped into the fray at full speed and scored in the first minute of play, before adding a couple more goals before the fourth minute mark.

The Canadians looked overwhelmed by the speed, individual and collective technic of their opponents but, to their credit, managed to settle down their defense and, well backed by a busy KJ Williams in goal, held the world champions at bay for the remainder of the period.

Canada remained on the back foot for most of second period, but nevertheless scored by Madison Thompson in the 30th minute, after a sudden rush that surprised the German defense. Germany were never in real danger in this game, cruising to a final 8-1 win, but the Canadian women can now look with confidence at their second day of competition after having now played the top two ranked team in their pool.

(men) Russia vs. Canada: 2-1 (ht: 2-1)

The Canadian men played their second match of the day on the smaller court, far less pleasant that the main one, but fortunately warmed up by a cheerful Canadian contingent. The match was very intense from the start, the two teams having a similar physical style.

Canada missed their first scoring opportunity on a penalty-corner, but the Russians were more realistic, scoring on their first penalty-corner and immediately doubling their tally with a superb lob over the goal-keeper from an impossible angle. Canada narrowed the gap two minutes later on a well-executed penalty-corner combination  that ended with Devohn Noronha Teixeira having a clear view of the goal.

Canada survived a late penalty-corner and half-time was reached with a narrow one-goal lead for the Russians. They benefitted from another penalty-corner in second period for a mysterious foul, but Shankar Premakanthan in the Canadian goal was up to the task, very fast off the line to thwart the attempt. Shankar was totally on his game tonight, pulling some miracles to maintain his team within reach of Russia.

Canada survived another penalty-corner scare and Jonathan Roberts also saved a sure goal on the line, but the Canadians were still threatening. The atmosphere on the court and in the stands was very tense. Play was going back and forth at full speed but, with the minutes ticking down, the Canadians became more and more desperate and rushed a few chances.

They replaced their goal-keeper for an extra attacker with two minutes left and managed to set-up Jonathan Roberts on the left of the circle with the Russian keeper out of position, but he could not adjust his deflection and Russia were relieved to bag the three points of the win.

Results of Day 1 (Wednesday February 4):
(men) Netherlands vs Canada: 3-1 (1-1)
(men) Russia vs Canada: 2-1 (2-1)
(wf-time wasmen) Austria vs Canada: 1-0 (0-0)
(women) Germany vs Canada: 8-1 (3-0)

Schedule for Day 2 (Thursday February 5):
(men) Canada vs. Switzerland
(men) Canada vs. South Africa
(women) Australia vs. Canada
(women) Canada vs. Ukraine