The Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team dropped a 2-0 decision in the first Men’s World League Round 2 semifinal Saturday in Chula Vista, California.
With a spot in the final and automatic qualification for World League Round 3 awarded to the winner, there was a lot to play for as the two teams took to the field.
The match began with both teams looking to impose their will and style of play on the other. Both defensive lines were forced to be strong to withstand any early pressure.
A calculated match went back and forth, with Canada gaining momentum and scoring opportunities near the end of the first quarter.
A scoring chance late resulted in a penalty corner for Canada but both offensive forays were turned away by Irish keeper David Harte.
After a scoreless first quarter, Canada continued to put on the pressure in the second quarter with a scoring chance early. Again, Harte was up to the challenge.
Minutes later, Ireland gained a circle entry of their own and this time David Carter, in his 100th international match for Canada, was required to make a good save. Carter made another well-timed save off Ireland’s first penalty corner of the quarter and the match remained scoreless.
After some pressure from Ireland, Canada looked to turned the tide back in its favour.
A series of long-balls played through the air resulted in a penalty corner with forty seconds remaining in the half, but Harte was once again equal to the task, keeping the game tied nil-nil at halftime.
Ireland’s man of the match without question was its goalkeeper David Harte, as in the second half he continued his stellar play in the opening minutes.
Constant Canadian possession and pressure resulted in an Irish turnover in midfield and another scoring opporunity, but Harte stood tall to keep the ball out.
Harte’s play must have been a boon to the Irish pysche as against the run of play Ireland found its way into the Canadian area and earned a penalty corner.
Off the ensuing advantage, Shane O’Donoghue put the ball passed Carter to give Ireland the first goal of the game and the 1-0 lead in the 39th minute.
Just three minute later, with a Canadian player missing on a yellow card, Ireland seized another opportunity and it was once again O’Donoghue who capitalized. The lead was 2-0 Ireland with just over a quarter to play.
Ireland was buoyed by its third quarter and in the fourth continued its strong play, limitng Canada’s opportunities on its way to victory.
With the win, Ireland moves on to the tournament final where it will face the winner of the second semifinal between Austria and Russia. With the top three teams in World League 2 moving on to World League Round 3 in June, Ireland automatically earns its spot with its guaranteed top two finish.
For Canada to move on to World League 3, it will have to win the third place match on Sunday at 1pm against the loser of the Austra-Russia semifinal.