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After finishing up pool play this morning, the Women’s Elite competition moved on to the cup rounds. The French, the Maple Leafs, Great Britain and the USA Selects all advanced to the semi-finals on Sunday.
The USA Selects dominated the Stars. For most of the weekend the Eagles have been dominating opponents, but according to head coach Jules McCoy the squad is a work in progress.
“As a new coach, we have been introducing new systems, new approaches about how we want to play the game as a country,” said McCoy. “It has taken us a little while to feel more comfortable with those changes in approach. What I really wanted for this weekend is to demonstrate to the players and the country that this approach puts us in the best position to win games.”
McCoy is attempting to make the Eagles a much more dynamic attacking team by exploiting space, in particularly the wide channels. With an extremely athletic team, including Kristen Thomas out wide, McCoy feels this style of play highlights the particular skill set of this team.
“We want to play in space because we are really fast and athletic team. Playing in space is to our benefit. There are a number of ploys that we are putting in that try to continue to push that idea of playing in space,” McCoy added.
The first four games of the weekend, the Eagles have been experimenting with different combinations, trying to find the lineups that best fit the new strategy. The LVI has provided the Eagle coaching staff with the opportunity to teach the new pattern. “We have been twirling with combinations, twirling with approaches, times when we use each tools to put us in space. They are starting to get a comfort level with it…It is about giving the team a tool box with a hammer, a screwdriver, a wrench and saying what situations would use these tools in to be effective,” said McCoy
In addition to developing the new system of play, the LVI has provided an opportunity for the Eagles to give valuable playing time to some younger players.
“We wanted to put them in the middle of the field with some veterans and some pace to see what they could do,” McCoy said her youngsters. “Give them a comfort level playing together and give them a sense that they could play with the more adult players.”
Canada had a similar approach to this tournament, hoping to give some development players some time on day one. Coach Colette McAuley indicated that day one was more of an experimental day.
“We knew that our pool was a little bit easier than some of the other pools so we are doing a lot of combinations, giving some development players a lot of time,” McAuley stated.
Facing more familiar faces on day two, Canada went with a more experienced lineup. The Maple Leafs ground out a victory over South Africa to earn their place in the last four.
“A lot of our centralized development players got the minutes that are required to pull out a win in a high pressure situation,” McAuley added. “We worked on the little things undisciplined in defensive the last couple of games. I thought that we really improved that.”