This article was originally published on the Field Hockey Canada website.
First quarter goals from Stairs and Johansen lead Canada to victory
In its first game at the new Pan-Am Fields, site of the 2015 Pan American Games field hockey competition this July, the Canadian Women's National Field Hockey Team defeated Ireland 2-1 Sunday in Toronto.
It was the first match of a four-game test series between the two teams, which runs until May 27th. With support from the home crowd, the Canadians came out of the gate strong and were rewarded early.
Forward Brienne Stairs, a native of Kitchener, which is located 45 minutes west of Toronto, scored the game's first goal in the fifth minute. Stairs continues her scoring strength after a 2014 campaign which saw her land in the Top 10 female goal scorers worldwide.
Canada kept up the pressure through the first quarter and after Ireland was given a green card, defender Karli Johansen converted on a Canadian penalty corner with just over eight minutes to go to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
Ireland - which had beat Canada by one goal their last two meetings, the most recent coming in a shootout in the World League Round 2 finals - pushed back after going down by two. Their efforts resulted in Aine Connery scoring the visitors' first goal. Canada led 2-1 after the first quarter.
The team exchanged chances early in the second quarter, with Canada applying pressure early but not being able to convert. Again, Ireland pushed back with chances of their own but Canadian keeper Kaitlyn Williams came up with a big stop.
The offensive chances continued to be traded throughout the second half, with both goaltenders being forced to make saves to thwart any additional scoring.
Despite a late attack mounted by the Irish, Canada's defense - led by Williams who stood tall between the pipes in the final moments - was able to withstand Ireland's pressure and guide Canada to the 2-1 win.
The two teams will meet again in Game 2 of the series Sunday at 3pm/ET before a day off on Monday. The final two matches of the series will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6pm/ET.
Complete scores and schedule for the series vs. Ireland can be found here.