The Canadian women’s field hockey team has moved into the semifinals of the FIH Hockey Series Finals in Valencia, Spain.
That means Canada, under South African coach Giles Bonnet, is one win away from making an Olympic qualifying playoff. Canada’s women have sat out the last six Olympics, last competing in 1992 when they finished seventh in Barcelona.
Canada, ranked 21st in the world, wrapped up round-robin play Saturday with a 3-0 win over No. 20 Belarus thanks to two goals from Stephanie Norlander and one from captain Kate Wright. That followed a 1-1 tie with No. 7 Spain and 17-0 rout of No. 42 Namibia.
Canada, as Group A winner, gets a bye to the semifinals and could face the host country again Wednesday if the Spaniards dispose of No. 27 Wales in their crossover match on Monday. No. 15 South Africa, which topped Group B, will face either No. 17 Italy or Belarus in the final four.
A top-two finish will lead to the Olympic qualification playoff later this year, almost certainly in hostile territory.
The winner of the Pan American Games, which open on July 26 in Lima, will also head to the 2020 Tokyo Games. But that competition features No. 4 Argentina, the 12th-ranked Americans and No. 16 Chile.
The loss of Own The Podium funding plus Field Hockey Canada’s financial problems meant the Canadian women had to turn to a crowdfunding campaign to get to Spain. The fundraising produced some $81,000.
A private donor paid for the team’s week-long camp in Victoria ahead of the Spain tournament.
The Canadian men, ranked 10th in the world, are heading to their own playoff after winning the FIH Series Finals in May with a 3-2 victory over host Malaysia, ranked 13th. They can also qualify via the Pan American Games, although Olympic champion Argentina, currently ranked fourth, stands in their way.
Own The Podium money helped pay for the men’s trip to Malaysia.
The men will play host to their playoff qualifier, likely against a team ranked 14th through 16th, at their West Vancouver, B.C., training base.
Canada roster (number of caps)
- Amanda Woodcroft (110)
- Anna Mollenhauer (4)
- Brienne Stairs (158)
- Dani Hennig (183)
- Elise Wong (8)
- Hannah Haughn (174)
- Holly Stewart (87)
- Kaitlyn Williams (132)
- Karli Johansen (128)
- Kate Wright (captain, 211)
- Lauren Logush (44)
- Maddie Secco (122)
- Natalie Sourisseau (136)
- Nikki Woodcroft (55)
- Rachel Donohoe (71)
- Sara McManus (170)
- Shanlee Johnston (110)
- Steph Norlander (109)