Former T&T Hockey Board “Sportswoman of the Year” and senior national team captain Alanna Lewis is among eight changes made to the senior women’s team ahead of the Pan American Hockey Cup in Santiago, Chile from January 19 - 30.
The 33-year-old Lewis was last included in the senior team as captain at the 2017 Pan American Indoor Cup in Georgetown, Guyana where she led the ‘Calypso Stickwomen” to a fifth-place finish.
But now faced with a daunting task in a tough Pool A of the round-robin draw against the South American trio of the powerhouse and three-time winners Argentina, host Chile and Uruguay in the eight-team tournament, Lewis along with the seven other players who were not part of the Pan American Women’s Challenge qualifying tournament held last August in Peru, will now look to bolster the team's chances in the FIH World Cup qualifiers for the region.
Canada, Mexico, the USA, and Peru will face off in Pool B of the tournament.
Also making a return to the senior women’s team to be coached once again by Anthony “Bumper” Marcano are USA-based Tamia Roach, Long Island University quartet, Felicia King and Olton sisters Sarah Olton, Kaitlyn Olton and Samantha Olton, and Kimberly Young (co-captain) and goalkeeper Talia Seale gets a first senior call-up.
The members of the team who ended in the second spot in the qualifiers in Peru last August and who managed to keep hold of their places include co-captain Avion Ashton, goalkeeper Arresia Sandy, De Freitas sisters, Shaniah and co-captain Savannah, Gabrielle Thompson, Mia Olton, Anya Sealy, Amanda George, Brittney Hingh and Zene Henry while Naomi Sampson and Shania Gajadhar have been named as travelling reserves.
Among those failing to retain their picks is the stand-out performer in the qualifiers Brianna Govia, Daniella Martin, Tahirah Wynne, Saarah Sampson, Nicole Whiteman, Teresa Lezama, and Amie Olton.
Both Whiteman and goalkeeper Sampson has been named as alternates along with Jamies James, a first-time senior hopeful.
Lezama has since retired as a player and will serve as assistant manager/videographer for the team while both Olton (A) and Govia are unavailable.
The “Calypso Stickwomen” open their tournament versus Chile on January 19 from 7.30 pm followed by matches against Uruguay on January 21 versus Mexico from 5,15 pm, and Argentina, two days later also from 5.15 pm to close out round-robin play.
The top team at the end of round-robin play from each pool will advance directly to the main draw semifinals on January 27 while the second and third-placed teams in each pool meet in cross-over quarterfinals to determine the two remaining semifinal qualifiers.
Both finalists and the third-place finishers in the Pan American competition which ends on January 29 will earn places at the16-team FIH World Cup which will be hosted jointly by Spain and Netherlands in 2022.
During the one-week Pan American Challenge Tournament last August, T&T defeated Peru 1-0 in their opening round-robin encounter on September 26, followed by a 2-2 draw with Paraguay on (September 28) and 1-1 with Brazil a day later to end in the second spot at the end of group play with five points, one behind the Peruvians.
In the semifinal, T&T battled past Paraguay 4-3 on sudden-death penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in regulation time while Peru blanked Brazil 2-0, before avenging their round-robin loss to the 'Calypso Stickwomen' for the gold medal, 2-0.
The Argentines are five-time Pan American Cup winners and the lone team to have ever won gold in the competition, while the USA has ended second in each edition except 2017 when they took bronze with Chile claiming the silver.
The T&T women who have resumed training have appeared at the Pan American Cup three times previously;
The first was in 2004 in Barbados when they ended eighth, and then in 2009 when they placed fourth in Bermuda, and four years later when they ended seventh in Argentina.
Shania De Freitas, Avion Ahston (co-captain), Amanda George, Savannah De Freitas (co-captain), Anya Sealy, Tamia Roach, Alanna Lewis, Saarah Olton, Samantha Olton, Kaitlyn Olton, Felicia King, Kimberly Young (co-captain), Gabrielle Thompson, Zene Henry, Brittney Hingh, Mia Otero, Arresia Sandy (goalkeeper), Talia Seale (goalkeeper).
Travelling Reserves: Naomi Sampson, Shania Gajadhar
Alternates: Nicole Whiteman, Sarah Sampson (goalkeeper), Jamie James.
Technical staff: Anthony Marcano (head coach), Ellis Chance (assistant coach), Jennifer Lander (manager), Teresa Lezama (assistant manager/videographer), Dennora George (masseuse), Kevin Mc Intyre (physiotherapist).