After an impressive win in its first game, Canada’s men’s field hockey team came up on the short end of a 3-0 decision to India Saturday in London.
The loss is Canada’s first at the 2017 World league Semi-Final and – with one win and one loss on the competition – the Canadian men now sit in third in Pool B. Canada will face the Netherlands on Monday (6:00am PT/9:00am ET, CBC Sports), before closing out pool play against Scotland on Tuesday (4:00am PT/7:00am ET, CBC Sports).
Saturday’s match was a quick turnaround for Canada, which completed its match against Pakistan less than twenty hours prior.
And with the Indians likely looking to take advantage, the Canadians were put under pressure early.
“They moved the ball pretty well, and they forced us back really early in the game,” says Canadian forward Keegan Pereira. “Which isn’t exactly to our game plan and we got exploited a little bit especially early in the first and second quarters.”
India jumped on a turnover in the first minute and picking up the game’s first penalty corner, narrowly missing taking the lead on a drag flick from Harmanpreet, who put the ball high over the net.
Canadian keeper David Carter, who started in his second straight game, was called into action in the 2nd minute and made a strong stick save off Ramandeep.
Carter made another save, this time off Sunil in the 5th minute, but the Indian player was able to knock the ball in off a Canadian on the rebound and give India the 1-0 lead.
The Indians were able to score a second goal before the end of the second quarter on a deflection from Akashdeep in tight in the 10th minute, and scored a third early in the 2nd quarter, when Sardar put another goal in off a Canadian player the 18th minute.
The quick spell of goals early in the game did not allow Canada to play the way they had planned.
“We’re usually a team that likes to go after the ball and try to put pressure on the opponents,” Pereira adds. “India just held the ball really well. They just kept possession and they kept moving us.”
Canada had a chance to get on the board before the end of the first half, when captain Scott Tupper made a quick blind pass from the top of the circle to the far post to an open Floris van Son, who had the ball go just under his stick and wide.
The chance, however, was a sign that Canada had turned a corner in the match.
“The second half was better than the first half,” says van Son. “We changed our tactics a bit and that worked pretty well. The third and fourth quarter we held them to their side a litte bit better than the first half.”
Canada picked up its first penalty corner of the game in the 33rd minute, after a display of skills from Pereira. But Gordon Johnston’s high flick was stopped by Vikas Dahiya, who took over for Akash Chikte in the Indian goal in the second half.
After a string of Indian corners which were stopped by the Canadian corner defence, Pereira again found himself with the ball in the Indian circle in the 52nd minute, and moved it to Brandon Pereira at the side of the net, but his attempt went just wide.
Canada’s last chance to get on the board came in the 58th minute on a penalty corner.
After Tupper had his flick stopped, the ball popped loose in Mark Pearson and van Son both made attempts to put it in but couldn’t convert.
Despite the loss, Pereira and the Canadian men are staying positive heading into the second half of the pool stage.
“I think in the Pakistan game, and in the second half of the India game we showed that when we do keep possession ourselves and make the other team move and do what we want to do, we’re a good team,” Pereira says. “We’re a good side when we let the ball do the work.”
PHOTO: Iain Smythe and Mark Pearson mark an Indian player in Canada’s 3-0 loss at the World League Semi-Final on June 17, 2017 in London (By Yan Huckendubler)