Field Hockey Canada is thrilled to announce the 21-player roster that will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a test series and training tour from September 3-15. The last time Team Canada played official matches was at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Since the Commonwealth Games, the National Team has re-tooled their coaching staff, bringing on Olympic gold medal coach, Danny Kerry to lead the team and adding Olympic gold medal athlete Kate Richardson-Walsh as the assistant coach. Kerry, the former England and Great Britain (GB) head coach, led the GB women’s team to a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, a 2015 EuroHockey championship (with England) and an Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games. The coaching staff now look to prepare the team for the rigours of the Pan American Games.
The team will play some test-scrimmages and two officially capped matches. Kerry said that a tour like the upcoming trip to Charlotte can really set the trajectory for this team towards Pan Ams and give his team a sense of where their gaps are.
“This much needed match play will allow us to understand those area we have been working on back in Vancouver have transferred well to the pressure of international match play, and those areas we need to drive further,” Kerry said. “They will provide an ability for us to continue to build team understanding heading into the Pan Am Games in October.”
The roster brings back 14 members of the Commonwealth Games roster, keeping together a core of players to carry the program forward. Notable departures from last summer include Maddie Secco, Brie Stairs, Amanda Woodcroft and Shanlee Johnston.
This experienced core is led in the defensive end by stalwarts, Sara McManus, Karli Johansen and Kat Leahy with the dynamic Nat Sourisseau, holding the midfield space. These four players combine for 600 caps.
The goalkeeping tandem of Rowan Harris and Marcia LaPlante is earning experience, one major tournament at a time after long-time keeper Kaitlyn Williams retired during the COVID pandemic.
Rookies, Brooke McCusker, Mikayla Stelling, and Kenzie Girgis will be taking part in their first international tour. Stelling and Girgis play for UBC and McCusker plays for Wake Forest. All three have national junior experience and are making their first senior tour appearance.
Kerry said the team has worked hard this year to develop a core set of attacking and defending principles.
“When in the training environment, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly how far we have come until we play competitive matches. Having said that I am confident the team have a good, applied understanding of ‘our game’ and how to leverage the strengths of the players within the team.”
For Kerry and Richardson-Walsh, the new challenge of coaching in an unfamiliar environment has been met head on with enthusiastic athletes and a team searching for success at the top level.
“What both Kate and I love about working with the Wolfpack is their eagerness to practice, take-on new ideas and work hard for each other. As coaches you cannot ask more than that and is a great environment to be in,” Kerry said.