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Canadian women bounce back to beat Malaysia at Olympic field hockey qualifier

Canadian women's field hockey team Canadian women's field hockey team - The Canadian Press

VALENCIA, Spain — The Canadian women's field hockey team blanked Malaysia 3-0 on Sunday, bouncing back from an opening 2-0 loss to Britain at an FIH Olympic Qualifier.

Sara McManus scored twice and Thora Rae had the other goal for the 17th-ranked Canadians, who are looking to get to the Summer Games for the first time since 1992. Canada narrowly missing out on qualifying for Tokyo last time out, losing to Ireland in a penalty shootout after a two-legged series ended knotted at 0-0 in November 2019.

The eight-team Valencia competition is one of two last-chance women's qualifiers, with another event running simultaneously in India. The top three finishers from each book their ticket to the Paris Games this summer.

The Canadian women have a day off before facing No. 8 Spain in a must-win game Tuesday with Britain taking on Malaysia.

Spain upset Britain 1-0 to improve to 2-0-0 atop Pool B. Canada (1-1-0) is second, ahead of Britain (1-1-0) on a tiebreaker. No. 18 Malaysia (0-2-0) is at the bottom.

While Britain is unranked by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), it draws on No. 6 England, No. 16 Scotland and No. 26 Wales.

McManus gave Canada the lead on its first penalty corner in the third minute, scoring on a low shot. In the second quarter, Chloe Walton took advantage of a Malaysian turnover to find Audrey Sawers, whose shot was deflected in by Rae.

McManus's second goal came in the third quarter off a penalty corner.

"We knew this was going to be a tight game in the first half especially. But it was really nice to get an early goal to give us some confidence in the match,” said McManus, a veteran defender from Tsawwassen, B.C. “There’s still room for improvement on finishing and execution. We’re excited going into the next game. We know we’re going to have to bring our best game.”

The Canadian women have sat out the last seven Olympics. They finished seventh in 1992 in Barcelona and were fifth in 1984 and sixth in 1988 before that.

Spain, which has outscored its opposition 8-0 at the qualifier, has missed out on just one edition of Olympics since 1992.

The 17th-ranked Canadian men open play at their Olympic qualifier in Oman on Monday.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2024.