The women’s team of Canada bounced back from a series loss to SPAR South Africa on Sunday to defeat Russia 1-0 in a tightly contested clash on the second day of the SPAR CUP Tri-Nations women's hockey tournament at the Randburg Hockey Stadium.
The win was a confidence-booster for the Canadians as they are ranked three places below Russia on the world rankings and it places them level with South African on the Tri-Nations log.
In the tournament's opening match on Monday, South Africa defeated Russia 6-0 and the home side will face Canada on Wednesday to complete the first round of matches.
Canada looked capable of dominating Tuesday's match when they forced a penalty corner immediately after the start, but they were only able to score once, when Katie Baker got on to the end of a penalty corner save in the 44th minute to push the ball into the goal.
While Baker was naturally overjoyed with her decisive goal, other Canadians who caught the eye were captain Clare Linton and Christine DePape, who was named player of the match by adjudicator, SA women's coach Jenny King.
Canadian coach Sally Bell, an Australian, was encouraged by the result and rated her team's performance a seven out of 10.
"I thought the performance was a good one, although for the amount of possession we had, I would have liked to have seen more goals," Bell said. "We need to learn how to win games, but they are ranked higher than us so to win the game is a positive."
Looking ahead to Wednesday's game against SPAR South Africa, Bell said they needed to close out matches against opponents whom they know well after playing them in three Tests last week, drawing the first and losing the next two.
"We know South Africa very well and if we get on top we need to close out the match against them," Bell said. "We need to back today's win up with a strong performance tomorrow.
Russian goalkeeper Alexandra Nitsenko, who kept out that opening penalty corner, played an important role in denying the Canadians further goals on Tuesday, while forwards Svetlana Grigorieva and Marina Dudko often excelled in attack but were unable to crack the Canadian defense.
Canada – Russia 1-0
Goal Scorer: Katie Baker (44)