PHOTO: Canada celebrates victory against Korea (Courtesy Hawke’s Bay Cup)
The Canadian women’s field hockey team upset World No.9 Korea by a score of 2-1 in the opening match of the Hawke’s Bay Cup Saturday in Hastings, New Zealand.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first half, a strong second half during which Canada scored both its goals led the World No.19 Canadians past the Olympic-bound Koreans.
The match started off with Korea possessing most of the ball. Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams was forced to make a couple of saves confident earlier, but looked comfortable in goal. And so did the defence in front her.
Canada didn’t give up many opportunities in the first quarter and got an offensive opportunity of its own when Thea Culley fired a shot on goal from in close in the 14th minute.
Neither team was able to score in the first fifteen minutes, and it wasn’t until the first penalty corner of the game in the 22nd minute that Korea was able to break the deadlock.
Standing at the side of the Canadian goal, Kiju Park got a stick on the Korean attempt on goal and deflected it from a sharp angle past Williams to give Korea the 1-0 lead.
After going down, Canada showed signs of life late in the half but the wasn’t able to find a hole in the Korean defence.
It was in the second quarter when the Canadians really began to assert themselves.
In what is becoming a hallmark of the Ian Rutledge coaching style, Canada began to press harder. This resulted in more possession and more opportunity around the Korean goal.
Canada earned its first penalty corner of the game in the 35th minute, but the flick by Danielle Hennig was turned away by Korean keeper Soo Ji Jang, who made a diving save.
But Canada kept pressing, and a strong play by Hannah Haughn in the Korean circle resulted in another corner for Canada in the 42nd minute.
Karli Johansen’s dragflick was stopped, as was Kate Gillis’ rebound attempt. But Gillis’s dive for a rebound forced the ball loose and Brienne Stairs was on the doorstep to put it in the net for Canada’s first goal.
Canada kept pressing over the next ten minutes but wasn’t rewarded. Korea sensed an opportunity and picked up two penalty corners of its own. Both were put wide and Canada went back on the offensive.
After the ball was played in to the Korean area, Natalie Sourisseau forced her way forward, through three Korean defenders. The ball came loose to Holly Stewart, open at the side of the net. She put it by Jang to give Canada the 2-1 lead.
Korea had chances to tie in the dying moments when Canada conceded back to back penalty corners but they couldn’t find the net and Canada went on to win.
The Canadians are back in action on Sunday in New Zealand (Saturday, 3:00pm PT/6:00pm ET in Canada) against World No.10 Japan. The game can be watched live hockeynz.co.nz/video.