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News for 26 December 2019

All the news for Thursday 26 December 2019

Field Hockey Canada: Top Stories of 2019

The annual recap of top accomplishments, exciting stories and the very best moments of the 2019 calendar year

As the door swings to a close on another year, we are recapping the top stories of 2019 and are looking forward to 2020.

ONE: Men’s National Team Qualifies for the 2020 Olympic Games on home soil

Easily the story of the year. A breathtaking hometown performance, an unlikely comeback, last second heroics, a shootout comeback. This event had it all. Canada overcame a day-2 deficit to earn their spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the most dramatic of fashions. A weekend that will go down in Canadian hockey lore forever.

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TWO: Women’s National Team’s historic Pan American Games run to the finals

The last time the Canadian women’s hockey team made the finals at the Pan American Games was in 1991. This year, Canada fought back to the championship match defeating North American rivals USA en route to a finals appearance against Argentina. Although Canada couldn’t upset Argentina in the finals, their run to the title match shows huge strides for the women’s national team and bumped them up to 15th in the world rankings.

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THREE: Scott Tupper bears the flag for the Canadian delegation at the 2019 Pan American Games

Since making his first international appearance in 2005, Vancouver native, Scott Tupper has played more than 300 games for Canada. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) officially named Tupper as Team Canada’s Lima 2019 Opening Ceremony flag bearer in July prior to the games. He led a delegation of 477 athletes and 119 coaches into Estadio Nacional del Perú to kick off a successful event for Canada.

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FOUR: Men’s National Team wins the 2019 Hockey Series Final in Malaysia

The Men’s National Team went to Malaysia twice in as many months. First for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and then returned for the Hockey Series Final. After dropping two games against the home team to close out the Azlan Shah Cup, Canada came back with a vengeance defeating Malaysia in a thrilling final to finish first at the Hockey Series Final in April.

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FIVE: Women’s National Team earns FIH Olympic Qualifier berth with second place finish in Valencia

After thumping the competition at the Hockey Series Open in Mexico a year prior, the time had finally come to compete at the 2019 Hockey Series Final. The goal was simple. Finish in the top two at the tournament and move one step closer to the Olympics. Canada played amazing hockey defeating every team except Spain and finished second place, earning a berth to the FIH Olympic Qualifier series.

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SIX: Young stars rise on the Women’s National Team

Elise Wong and Anna Mollenhauer

With the Women’s National Team ramping up for the Pan American Games and the Olympic Qualification series, they saw the injection of youth to bolster their ranks. After playing USPORTS and NCAA hockey respectively, Anna Mollenhauer and Elise Wong took to the field to play for Team Canada at the 2019 Hockey Series Finals in Valencia, Spain.

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SEVEN: Canada sends three teams to the Masters Indoor World Cup in Hong Kong

Last February, Field Hockey Canada sent three teams to the World Masters Championships in Spain. Riding off the momentum from the previous summer, three Canadian teams showed up in Hong Kong ready to take on the world at the 2019 Masters Indoor World Cup.

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EIGHT: Canadian officials taking in the Pan American Games experience

It’s not only the athletes that get to shine on the international stage at multi-sport events like the Pan American Games. The 2019 edition saw six Canadian field hockey members proudly representing Canada not as players, but as part of the officials team. Two umpires (Megan Robertson and Tyler Klenk, an umpire manager (Wendy Stewart), one technical official (Laurie Hogan) and two members of the media team (Ali Baggott and Yan Huckendubler) are contributing to the sport of field hockey at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games.

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NINE: Experienced Women’s National Team core tops cap-milestone list

Chloe Watkins with Nikki Woodcroft 2/11/2019

The Women’s National Team participated in an unprecedented amount of capped games over the last two seasons. Their relocation to Belgium and their commitment to playing in more competitions has vaulted core veteran athletes to the top of Canada’s all-time cap list. Active players, Kate Gillis (216), Dani Hennig (188), Hannah Haughn (179) and Sara McManus (175) are the top four capped female athletes in Canadian history. Brie Stairs (163) and Natalie Sourisseau (141) are not far behind and will look to join their teammates at the top of the list.

TEN: Field Hockey Canada inducts a distinguished 2019 class into the Hall of Fame

In 2019 Field Hockey Canada revitalizing its Hall of Fame committee and formalizing some of the processes. The organization is thrilled to announce a large and incredible class of 2019 inductees including builders, athletes, officials and a team.

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Field Hockey Canada media release

NSJ College Team of the Year 2019: Tar Heels field hockey caps unbeaten season with 2nd straight title

North Carolina, which hasn’t lost in two years, defeated Princeton 6-1 in the championship game

Members of the North Carolina field hockey team celebrate after winning their second straight national title with a 6-1 win over Princeton on Nov. 24 in Winston-Salem. (Jeffrey A. Camarati / Courtesy of UNC)

When you talk about women’s sports dynasties at North Carolina, soccer is usually the first thing that comes to mind.

But while coach Anson Dorrance’s record-setting program is the gold standard for its sport with 21 national championships, including nine in a row from 1986-94, it’s been seven years since the women’s soccer team won its last title.

These days, it’s a different group of Tar Heels that’s collecting most of the hardware.

On Nov. 26 in Winston-Salem, coach Karen Shelton’s field hockey team routed Princeton 6-1 to complete its second straight undefeated national championship season. It was a performance that helped earn the Tar Heels recognition from the North State Journal’s sports staff as the North Carolina College Team of the Year for 2019.

“It’s done one game at a time,” Shelton told GoHeels.com after winning her eighth national title, ranking her second among all Division I coaches. “We don’t really think about the streak. I think it provides motivation for our opponents, but we’ve faced that before. Every team wants to beat us. We’d rather be the hunted.”

The Tar Heels should be used to that role by now. They were among the nation’s elite even before their current 46-match winning streak and two-year hold on the national championship trophy.

The North Carolina Tar Heels field hockey team crowds around the NCAA trophy after beating Princeton 6-1 in the 2019 championship game in Winston-Salem. (Jeffrey A. Camarati / Courtesy of UNC)

UNC has been to the field hockey Final Four in each of the past 11 years, although for a while there, it had trouble getting over the top and winning the final game. It has five national runner-up finishes during that stretch.

The most heartbreaking close call of all came in the 2017 national semifinals when Shelton’s team fell in a penalty shootout to UConn — a loss that proved to be the springboard for the back-to-back titles that followed.

“After the 2017 season, when we said we were never going to lose another game, we didn’t mean over the next two years,” senior forward Catherine Hayden told GoHeels.com. “That was kind of just about the year after.”

But the Tar Heels, led by Hayden and fellow seniors Marissa Creatore, Megan DuVernois, Feline Guenther, goalie Alex Halpin, Yentl Leemans, Ellen Payne and Ali Rushton, went ahead and ran the table anyway.

Their 2019 success, however, was anything but a sure thing.

Not only did the Tar Heels lose six seniors from the previous year’s championship team, including ACC and NCAA Tournament MVP Ashley Hoffman, but they also lost the only returning starter on defense — Cassie Sumfest — to a season-ending injury in the spring.

They overcame that adversity with a resilience that helped them win several close games to start the season, along with the prolific offensive production of sophomore Erin Matson.

The nation’s top scorer with 33 goals and 15 assists for 81 points, she was recently named National Player of the Year by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, making her eligible to have her No. 1 jersey retired.

Matson was especially good during the NCAA Tournament, a four-game stretch in which she netted nine goals to lead North Carolina to wins against Stanford, Iowa, ACC rival Boston College and Princeton.

Although the championship-clinching 6-1 victory against the Tigers wasn’t close on the scoreboard, UNC did have a few nervous moments when it fell behind by a goal just 2:13 into the game.

It was the third time in as many NCAA Tournament games that the Tar Heels had trailed. But just as they did in an earlier 2-1 win against Iowa and a 6-3 victory against Boston College, they didn’t panic.

Creatore tied the score 14 minutes later, starting a barrage of six unanswered goals that included two by Matson, two by Eva Smolenaars and a late exclamation point by Hannah Griggs.

The victory made UNC only the second team in NCAA history, joining Old Dominion twice, to win two straight titles with consecutive undefeated seasons. This one was celebrated by a mostly Carolina-blue clad crowd of 1,466.

“In the middle of the game, everyone just stopped and looked at the stands and the sea of Carolina blue was something that was really special,” Matson told GoHeels.com “Those little things today made a difference.”

North State Journal Online

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