Canada’s women’s field hockey team faces their biggest challenge yet at the Pan Am Games as they get set to take on the number one ranked team in the world today.
The Canadians haven’t played Argentina in about 18 months when they lost by three goals but veteran player and Rossland native, Thea Culley, expects a better result this time round.
“We’re quite a different team from a year a half ago,” said Culley from Guadalajara, Mex. yesterday. “It’s nice going into it knowing all we have to do is the best that we can, really if we manage the situations and minimize their chances I think we’ll do really well.”
The Argentines are coming off an 11-0 shellacking of Trinidad Tobago, while Canada also enjoyed a 10-0 victory over Barbados. Canada maintained a strong attack throughout, with Culley accounting for two of the team’s goals in addition to ringing one off the cross bar early in the match.
“We played really well, we’ve been working on a lot of attacking rotations and everyone was just firing on all cylinders.”
Culley is pleased with where the team is at, and remains positive about facing off against the worlds best.
“On any given day any team can win, in the past I might not have thought that, but it is possible for us, especially because they seem to be a team that only plays when they need to and I think we can really surprise them with some of the stuff we’ve been working on and the knowledge that the girls are starting to apply to the game.”
Culley has enjoyed the Pan Am Games experience. Other than the hurricane that greeted athletes upon arrival, the electric atmosphere of the opening ceremonies has motivated the team as they continue their quest for gold.
“Everybody loves Canada, so we got a really good cheer. Even hearing the Mexicans come in was really inspiring. I know a lot of the girls are quite inspired to stay on with the team until the 2015 Pan Ams in Toronto, so we get to be that home team.”
After the game today, Team Canada plays Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday before the start of the medal round. A gold means Canada would automatically qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.
“That’s the ultimate dream for all athletes really, is to participate at the Olympics . . . for us, that’s the Mecca of our sport,” she added.
Wednesday, Culley’s parents, Lorren and Lisa of Rossland, flew into Guadalajara to support Thea and cheer on the team.