The Canadian women’s national field hockey team had one of their most stunning international performances from over the past decade at the recent FIH Hockey Series Final in Valencia, Spain. Second-year University of Victoria Vikes midfielder Anna Mollenhauer made her debut in the red and white and wrapped up the tournament being named the Best Junior Player of all under 21 competitors in the eight-team tournament.
The Canadian women capped off the tournament with a second-place finish guaranteeing them a spot in to the FIH Olympic Qualifiers tournament and a chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020. The Series Final was the first major international competition for Mollenhauer, who joined long-time naitonal team members and former Vikes Kaitlyn Williams and Dani Hennig. Both Williams and Hennig were on the 2008 U SPORTS national championship winning team, while Mollenhauer led the Vikes to the 2018 title this past fall.
Mollenhauer’s second season with the Vikes couldn’t have gone any better as the St. Michael’s University school graduate capped off her varsity season with every accolade possible including U SPORTS and Canada West Player of the Year, U SPORTS All-Canadian, Canada West All-Star and, the ultimate prize, the McCrae Cup as national champions. It was the first championship title won since 2008.
In April, Mollenhauer was named a finalist for the Vikes Female Athlete of the Year, while in June she stepped on to the Canadian senior national team and trained with them through Europe in preparation for their tournament in Spain.
“Anna is extremely hardworking, incredibly humble, amazingly courageous, beyond loyal, and will do everything in her power to make herself and her teammates better,” said Vikes head coach Lynne Beecroft. “She is a genuinely fabulous human being, who loves to play field hockey. We are so proud to have Anna as a member of our Vikes field hockey family!”
Mollenhauer follows in her mother’s foot steps as Vikes Hall of Fame inductee and Olympian Nancy Mollenhauer is also a dedicated Vikes field hockey player alumni.
The Vikes have always had a solid presence among the national team program and that has been more and more evident with Vikes Sam McCrory, Erin Dawson and Stefanie Sajko all travelling to Europe for junior national team duties.
Current national team staples Hennig and Williams both have pivotal roles with team Canada. Hennig is a co-captain and defender and one of the penalty corner aces, while Williams is the team’s starting netminder. Both moved to Belgium along with the majority of the national team to compete and train among the best. The training and competition paid off as Canada, ranked No. 21 in the world, had pool-play wins over No. 7 Spain, No. 17 Italy and No. 20 Belarus, while they wrapped up the tournament with a 4-2 loss in the final.
Regardless of the final loss, the Top-2 finish in the tournament qualified them for the next round of Toyko 2020 qualifications. Without this chance, Canada will have to rely on a sole championship berth win at the Pan American Games in August. Those games, held in Peru, will regardless be a steep competition with regular Olympic contenders Argentina and USA in the way.