VALENCIA, Spain — The Canadian women's field hockey team tied host Spain 1-1 in the opener for both teams on Wednesday at the FIH Hockey Series Finals.
Brienne Stairs of Kitchener, Ont., tied the game for Canada, ranked 21st in the world.
Carola Salvatella opened the scoring for world No. 7 Spain just 41 seconds into the game.
"We have been building for this for the past six months so we were a little shaky at the start and Spain were able to capitalize straight away," Canada’s captain Kate Wright told the event website. "But this group is constantly re-setting and rallying to get the ball and we were able to start again and go forward.
"We got a lot more comfortable and in the final quarter, I thought we outplayed Spain. We made ample opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net."
Stairs just missed a chance to win it in the dying seconds when her shot flew over the bar.
Canada is aiming for a top-two finish at the eight-country tournament.
That will lead to a playoff later this year, almost certainly in hostile territory, with Olympic qualification on the line.
Canada's women have sat out the last six Olympics, last competing in 1992 when they finished seventh in Barcelona.
Canada, ranked 21st in the world, is in Pool A at the FIH Hockey Series with Spain, No. 20 Belarus and No. 42 Namibia.
Canada returns to action Friday against Namibia.
The loss of Own The Podium funding plus Field Hockey Canada's financial problems meant that the Canadian women had to turn to a crowdfunding campaign to get to Spain. The fundraising produced some $81,000.
A private donor paid for the team's week-long camp in Victoria ahead of the Spain tournament.
The Canadian Press