By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
August 21, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team departed today for their pre-season tour, where they will face Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth before the start of the Canada West season.
It is a special year for head coach Lynne Beecroft, who will celebrate her 30th season at the helm, with a squad that boasts three rookies and several third and fourth-year athletes. In addition, the Vikes will play host to the CIS National Championship, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, for the sixth time since the McCrae Cup was first awarded in 1975. The Vikes have won two of their total 11 national championships on home soil
“We may be hosting the championship this year but we want to deserve and earn our spot at the tournament,” said Beecroft. “We are heading to Boston to start building our toolbox to become as complete as can be to be ready for this season.”
That toolbox starts with the returning veterans on the team including senior and midfielder Kyla Kirby, who brings a variety of leadership skills on and off the pitch. The Vikes will also return Kathleen Leahy, who recently returned from a summer of hockey with both the junior and senior Canadian national teams. Leahy helped Canada to a 14thplace finish at the 2013 Junior World Cup in July.
Additionally, fourth-year Kayleen Van der Ree will be a tenacious presence up front, while second-year Mei Lin Cheung will provide a lot of speed in the midfield. ForwardAmanda Kurianowicz will likely be the most lethal scorer for the Vikes. The Calgary native competed with Alberta at the Canadian Senior National Championship, where they finished fifth overall.
New additions to the Vikes roster include goalkeeper Larissa Piva and forward Emily Bennett, both from Kamloops, as well as midfielder Kira Starr from Toronto. The Vikes will also return forward Stefanie Hatch who took last season off.
The Vikes will face ivy league competition in Yale (Aug. 24 at 11:00 a.m.), Harvard (Aug. 26 at 8 a.m.) and Dartmouth (Aug. 27 at 11 a.m.) before returning home for the beginning of the Canada West season.
The Vike will select 16 of their 18-man roster to travel Sept. 21-22 for their opening weekend against Calgary and will return for their home openers on Sept. 28-29 versus UBC. The three-team Canada West conference will mean that only the top team other than Victoria will qualify for nationals. Two teams from the eastern OUA conference will also join to make the four-team tournament complete.
“It being my 30th year doesn’t make much of a difference to me,” added Beecroft , who guided the Vikes to CIS gold in her 25th season in Victoria in 2008. “I see every day as a new day and another day to coach these young ladies to achieve the best they can.”
Beecroft will also have the help of long-time assistant coach Krista Thompson who enters her 16th season with the Vikes. Thompson spent the summer working with the Canadian senior and junior national teams, including touring with the team to Ireland.
The full Vikes women’s field hockey schedule and roster can be found at govikesgo.com