Canada brought their A game as they gave Namibia no hope of survival by beating them 17-0 at the FIH series final women’s hockey Olympic qualifier.
The Canadian team got off to the dream start when Brienne Stairs capitalised on some confusion in the Namibia defence to tap the ball past Petro Stoffberg in the African team’s goal.
Stairs found the net in the 85th second, which will have gone some way to mending the hurt after Canada conceded a goal within 41 seconds to Spain in their first game.
It was all one-way traffic in the opening minutes and, although Stoffberg made three great saves from rebounds following a penalty corner, even she could do nothing when a penalty stroke was awarded and Sara McManus dispatched the ball with confidence.
The third goal came as a result of some careful buildup play from Canada. The ball started on the wide right and a series of passes saw Stephanie Norlander unmarked in front of goal and she was able to slam it home.
This was quickly followed by two goals in quick succession from Hannah Haughn and a further one from Amanda Woodcraft to give the team a 6-0 lead going into the first break.
The second quarter continued in much the same vein. The difference in rankings (21 points) was very obvious as Namibia sought for a way past the strong Canada midfield but Lauren Logush in the Canada goal was a lonely spectator as her team set up camp in the Namibia half.
Goals from Norlander, Elise Long, Madeleine Secco and another for Stairs meant the Canadian team entered half-time 10-0 up and still looking hungry for more goals.
In the third quarter, Canada added two more goals to their scoreline.
First Stairs completed her hat trick and then McManus slotted home her second penalty stroke; awarded against Stoffberg after the ‘keeper made a desperate challenge following a defensive error.
Stairs moved to four goals two minutes into the fourth quarter. Her hunger for goals still unsaturated as she drove at the shellshocked Namibian defence. Another goal followed for the striker, taking her tally to five and McManus scored her third and fourth – another penalty stroke and a penalty corner.
At no point did Namibia stop pushing for a goal of their own. Despite the scoreline, Stoffberg made some courageous saves and the Namibia attack did win a penalty corner and drew a save from Logush.
The scoreline means that Canada has recorded the highest score in any match of the six FIH Series Finals played this year.
“After the game against Spain our focus was on scoring, so we wanted to be scoring, to be in the circle and be clinical,” said captain Kate Wright. “And that was what we did. In our first game we were a little tight so we wanted to be looser.”
“We like to play every game at a certain level and make sure we bring the ‘Canadian game.’ It was actually a stepping stone into our next match. We stayed strong in the second half and we will keep that going into the final pool match. There are times in the Pan American Games where we score a lot of goals so we have learnt how to deal with that situation but, sometimes in the past, we would have let the tempo drop but not now. We will be bringing that same intensity into the game against Belarus tomorrow.”