Rossland native Thea Culley and the Canadian Women’s Field Hockey Team finished up the World League Semifinal with a strong 2-0 win over Uruguay Friday in Valencia, Spain.
A strong performance from goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams who was awarded the win and shutout, along with first half goals from Kaelan Watson and Danielle Hennig led Canada to the win and the ninth place finish.
“Our performances have been pretty good on the whole,” says Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge. “I’m confident if we play well, we’ve honored all the hard work we’ve done in the series.”
Despite going 1-4 in the series, the Canadians haven’t looked out of place in this tournament, which features five out of the world’s top 10 teams, in which Canada is ranked the second lowest at 20th.
Canada dropped a 4-2 decision to eighth ranked Great Britain, after losses to Spain, 3-0, third-ranked Argentina, 6-0, and seventh-ranked China, 3-0.
The Canadian women are typically among the youngest teams at every tournament in which they compete, making each time they step on a bigger stage – like this one where Olympic qualification was up for grabs – a learning experience. Culley is the senior member of the team with over 140 caps to date.
After qualifying by finishing second at World League Round 2 in Dublin, Ireland, Canada knew it had a steep hill to climb if it wanted to qualify for Rio through World League. And while they weren’t able to manage a win in the first four matches, they were not disappointed with their play.
“With exception with the first half against Argentina, I think we’ve pretty much been in most games for the majority of the match,” adds Rutledge. “I think that’s a pretty pleasing place to be given the quality of the opponents we’ve come across.”
What’s also pleasing is what good performances mean moving forward.
With the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto just around the corner, and being the Canadian women’s final shot to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, playing well and consistently is what they’ll need to do to give themselves the best shot possible.
“I think we continue to make progress. It’s already been a good year,” says Rutledge. “We’ve already achieved some good things with our World League 2 result and our series against Ireland.”
Canada will now focus on prepration for the 2015 Pan American Games, which take place in Toronto, Ontario from July 10th-26th. It is Canada’s final chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The winner of the Pan Am Games earns a spot in Rio.
Canada’s first game in Toronto is July 13th at 7 p.m. against the Dominican Republic.