VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Amy Agulay (London, Ont.), a four-year starting goalkeeper at the University of New Hampshire via Regina Mundi, was one of 18 players selected to the Canadian National Field Hockey Team on August 8. The team will compete at the Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament, which will take place Sept. 18-30 at Amiens and Abbeville, France.
"Every major tournament becomes a new goal for me and the Canadian Team travelling to the World Cup Qualifier was a huge goal for me just because of the type of tournament that it is," said Agulay, who was also on the roster of the Canadian National Team that competed at the America's Cup this past March.
Under new head coach Butch Worth, tryout camp began July 1 in Vancouver with a grueling schedule of two-a-days six times a week and three weightlifting sessions per week.
"Being in a situation where we had a new coach heading up the Canadian Team, no one knew where they stood," Agulay said. "Some of our best players and veterans were very nervous coming into this camp and I was beyond nervous. I was a wreck, especially the first week or so. But after a few good practices, I ended up settling in and playing some good hockey."
The players broke camp four days to compete at the Canadian Senior National Tournament, in which provinces play one another. After returning to the national camp, Agulay survived the first cut on July 31st and was almost guaranteed a spot on the roster.
"After the first cut, one of the four goalies was sent home," Agulay said. "We (the goalies) were literally told to pack our bags for France."
A trip that will be Agulay's maiden visit to France. She traveled overseas to Europe when the New Hampshire field hockey team toured Holland in her freshman season. Her most recent travels took her to Jamaica for the America's Cup tournament.
"I think the trip to France makes the tournament special," Agulay said. "Anytime you get to travel to a new place, meet new people, see the world by playing the sport you love… I couldn't ask for anything more."
Agulay, a two-time America East All-Conference First Team player and a Northeast Regional All-America Second Team selection in 2000, stepped into the starting role upon her arrival in Durham and was sixth in the nation in save percentage (.858) as a freshman. A similar line of progression is possible for her on the Canadian team.
"I know that going from a backup goalie at the America's Cup to a possible starting goalie at the World Cup Qualifying Tournament is going to be a big step, but as a competitive athlete I'm really excited about it," Agulay stated. "Now that I'm on the team, I want the starting position."
Agulay is quick to credit UNH and head coach Robin Balducci, herself a former goalie on the UNH field hockey team, in her preparation for international competition.
"UNH has everything to do with my success so far," Agulay explained. "Robin is one of the best coaches in the NCAA, if not the best. She is always there for advice and support, and I remember training with her earlier this summer before going to my tryout. I don't hesitate to call her whenever I need someone to talk to about field hockey, to get encouragement or words of wisdom."
The Canadian team is in Pool B with Belgium, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Russia, Scotland and the United States. Canada opens play Sept. 18 against Russia and concludes its round-robin competition within the pool Sept. 27. The top four teams from both pools advance to the next round for the right to be one of the top seven teams that earn automatic qualification to the 2002 World Cup, which is Nov. 26-Dec. 8 at Perth, Australia.
"It looks like the toughest competition in our pool will be Japan, USA and Scotland," Agulay said. "I think we have a great chance of getting out of our pool, then we'll worry about the crossover matches when we get there."
Before the trek across the Atlantic Ocean, the team remains in Vancouver for training until the end of August. Then Agulay will finally have the opportunity to go home. It will be a short stay, however, as the Canadian Team departs for France on Sept. 8 and will play in 'test matches' before the start of the World Cup Qualifying Tournament.
Agulay, who left the UNH program as the career leader in games played (80), minutes (5564:07) and saves (827), will take a part of New Hampshire with her to Europe.
"The UNH field hockey program is top notch," Agulay said. "It not only builds good field hockey players but it creates great people. I've learned so much from UNH field hockey and my UNH pride will be with me as I suit up against the world."