Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, Germany, and England are considered the powerhouses in women’s hockey over many decades. No wonder, they have been dominating major FIH tourneys such as the Women’s Hockey World Cup. But at the 1983 Women’s Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, there was one country – Canada – who sprang a major surprise by making their maiden World Cup final appearance and their dream run was halted by the Dutch in the final, where they went down fighting 2-4. It was nothing short of a giant-killing run for Canada women’s hockey who had missed the first two editions of the Women’s Hockey World Cup (1974 & 1976) and only made their debut in the 1978 edition at Madrid. Pitted in Pool B alongside redoubtable opponents such as then West Germany, Argentina, England and New Zealand, the Canadian hockey eves launched their World Cup campaign with a pugnacious 1-1 draw against England – Shelley Winter had given the Canadians the lead in the second half but it was cancelled out by a late England goal.
Canada did suffer a setback when they lost to New Zealand 1-2 in a hard-fought tie, where Sheila Foreshaw evened things up after the Black Sticks women took an early lead – the Canadians was done in by a late New Zealand goal. Canada turned on the style pipping fancied West Germany 2-1 – a contest where after a goalless opening half, Lynne Beecroft gave Canada the lead but they needed a final-minute goal from Jean Gourlay to seal a win – like their games against England and New Zealand where they leaked late goals to settle for a draw and defeat respectively, this time around late winning goal did the trick for them. Canada grew in confidence as the tournament wore on and defeated Argentina 2-0 riding on a brace from Darlene Stoyke – they thumped Soviet Union 4-0 to top Pool B – Darlene Stoyke once again came to the party with a double while Sheila Foreshaw and Laurie Lambert scored the other goals.
Not many would have imagined Canada topping Pool B ahead of teams such as Argentina, West Germany, and England. They marched into the semifinals against Australia with dollops of confidence and played out a goalless draw against the Hockeyroos in regulation time before going on to win the gruelling encounter 8-5 in penalty strokes. Canada gave the Netherlands a run for their money, at least in the first half of the final clash – the Dutch had drawn first blood close to half-time but Sheila Foreshaw almost immediately equalised. Canada went ahead midway through the second half with a strike from Sharon Creeman but the Dutch response was swift. Marjolein Eijsvogel had special plans for the Dutch, scoring a splended a hat-trick in a span of just three minutes to take the match and the World Cup crown away from Canada.
Interestingly, Canada once again made a podium finish in the 1986 Women’s Hockey World Cup at Amstelveen, where they garnered a bronze after pipping New Zealand 3-2 in extra time in the play-off tie – they had lost to West Germany 1-4 in the semifinals earlier. Clearly, Canada women’s hockey team’s performance at the 1983 World Cup was like a Cinderella run.
Image – Courtesy Field Hockey Canada