Darren Smith’s team were tougher in their fifty fifty battles and breached the Canadian press much more so than in their first test.
Ireland made the better start and won their first penalty corner in the fourth minute when a pass from Watkins found O’Flanagan in the circle, popping the ball onto a Canadian foot.
Harvey’s drag was run down at the top, and minutes later Canada forced a corner of their own when a baseline run came of Meeke’s foot. The resulting flick lead to a reaward and the ball was flung wide.
Ireland began to find more flow and fluidity through the backline and midfield, but the final pass was missing and they struggled to penetrate the Canadian circle with any success.
With two minutes left in the half O’Flanagan took the initiative off a side-line ball on the right. Her mazy run beat four Canadian players but her reverse effort was saved high by the goalkeeper, and a penalty corner awarded.
With seconds left on the clock Michelle Harvey stepped up from the back to give the Green Army a 1-0 lead from a pin-point drag flick low to the keeper’s right.
Half time and the score board read Ireland 1 Canada 0.
Canada made the brighter start to the second half, clipping a shot over the cross-bar and forcing Grace O’Flanagan to smother well from a tight angle.
They won their third penalty corner of the game nine minutes after the restart, after an Irish break down on the half way line led to a Canadian break away force a foot in the circle.
The ensuing set piece was again well saved from O’Flanagan, and minutes later Ireland won a corner after good work from Jacob on the right forced a stick-chop.
Harvey’s flick was saved but Watkins did well to win another. This time Harvey made no mistake as her low fling found O’Flanagan flying in from the left to touch home and put the Green Army 2-0 up.
Canada won two corners in a period where Ireland found themselves unable to maintain possession when under pressure. The first was well saved by O’Flanagan and the second went dangerously into the face of Niamh Atcheler before a Haughn rebound found the back of the net.
Time was stopped for the blood injury but after umpire deliberation the goal stood. Atcheler received a nasty gash on her forehead for her troubles and took no further part in the game.
Another corner with 13 minutes left in the half forced Dillon to concede a stroke when the resulting flick hit her body on the line. O’Flanagan stood tall to make a reflec save high to the right and Ireland’s slender one goal lead remained.
It was then Ireland’s turn to attack as they went in search of a third. Duke and Beatty were particularly effective going forward, the latter finding Evans who shot just wide of the upright with minutes to go.
Time fizzled out along with Canada’s chances of snatching an equaliser, and the score finished 2-1 to the Green Army.
Smith was happier with his side’s performance but still felt improvements need to be made:
“It was a better performance from the girls today, with increased energy through the game. I’m pleased to be able to introduce other players to the series and be confident they can perform."
"Tuesday’s decider will be a tough game, where we will need to fix our mistakes to win the series.”