Rossland’s Thea Culley and the rest of the Team Canada women’s field hockey team pulled off an incredible feat last week on its way to winning the first round at the World Series qualifier in Trinidad-Tobago.
Team Canada cleared the first hurdle of the 2014 World Cup qualifier by shutting out opponents in each of its five games last week, including a 1-0 nail biter against Uruguay on Saturday. Canada finished 5-0 in the tournament outscoring teams 38-0, in qualifying for Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro in February.
“The five wins, 38 goals, and five shutouts are a huge accomplishment for Canada,” said Culley who played in her 91st international match Saturday.
“In the past we have struggled to convert on our chances thereby squeaking past opponents when we should have had no problems beating them. I’m really proud of the team performances in every game and our ability to set the tempo and tone of each match.”
After decisive wins against Venezuela, Guyana, and Barbados, the national team took down host Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 Thursday, before outlasting Uruguay. Canada’s Kate Gillis scored the lone goal at the six minute mark of the first half, and then let strong defence and goaltending carry them to victory.
“Today, was a great display of the girls’ skills and understanding of the game,” said Head Coach Kimo Linders on the Field Hockey Canada website.
“Relentless offense, strong transitions by our midfielders, solid support in the defense and an outstanding performance by our goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams led us to this victory.”
Despite losing half a dozen veteran players to retirement, the 26-year-old Culley says she was not surprised by the young team’s poise and maturity.
“(I was) more pleasantly confirmed in my confidence in my teammates. Yes we did lose quite a few veterans but the junior athletes had a very busy summer competing for the junior (national) team and through those experiences learned a great deal about the game and how to handle various situations. I’ve seen an incredible amount of development in those U21 athletes and they have been able to take on some more substantial roles within the Senior squad. It’s very exciting to be a part of.”
Uruguay and Trinidad-Tobago also qualified for Round 2 in Rio where they will likely meet stiffer competition against the likes of the U.S.A., Chile, and Argentina.
Until then Team Canada will take a week off before getting back to preparing for Round 2 of its World Cup journey.