UBC Thunderbirds enter field hockey season as defending champions


September 13, 2013, EDMONTON – Canada West previews the three women’s field hockey teams as the 2013 season is about to open: The UBC Thunderbirds are the defending conference and CIS champions and will begin the season as the team with the biggest target on their back.


2012 conference record: 8-0-0 (1st)

CIS tournament: 4-0-1

Last CW title: 2012

Last CIS title: 2012

Key addition: Sophie Huijskens

Key returnees: Miranda Mann, Natalie Sourisseau, Kate Gillis, Abigail Raye, Hannah Haughn, Shanlee Johnston, Bea Francisco, Rachel Donohoe, Poonam Sandhu

Key departure: Katrina Waldron

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds will begin the season as the team with the biggest target on their back.

Last year, UBC won the McCrae Cup – the trophy awarded to the national champions – for the second time in a row and the 14th time in 38 seasons. Just about everyone from that championship-winning squad is back for another run at the CIS banner.

Players returning from last year’s roster include the reigning Canada West Player of the Year Kate Gillis and the CIS Rookie of the Year and Championship Most Valuable Player Hannah Haughn. Both forwards scored seven goals in 2012 to lead the Canada West conference. Cassandra Tayler was right behind them with six. An interesting addition up front is Masters student Sophie Huijskens, a native of The Netherlands.

The UBC midfield pool is deep with internationally experienced players like Natalie Sourisseau and Poonam Sandhu working alongside fifth-year seniors Katie Jameson and Caitlin Evans.

Anchoring the defence are fifth-year senior and second team All-Canadian Miranda Mann, Rachel Donohoe and Sara McManus, whose hat trick in the CIS championship game against Toronto gave the Thunderbirds the 2012 national title.

Bea Francisco will once again guard the UBC net. She was one of six Thunderbirds who suited up for a Canadian team that finished 14th at the Junior World Cup in Germany over the summer.

In all, nine Thunderbirds have earned caps with the Canadian national team and six, Gillis, Haughn, Johnston, McManus, Raye and Sourisseau, will miss part of the 2013 season to play for their country at the Pan American Cup Sept. 21-28 in Mendoza, Argentina. That event serves as the qualifier for the World Cup of field hockey.

UBC will open its eight-game Canada West regular season this weekend at home on Wright Field against the Calgary Dinos.



2012 conference record: 07-1- (3rd)

Last CW title: 1974

Last CIS title: none

Key additions: F Yuno Iwabuchi, D/M Kieran Watson, F Brittany Whittaker, D Melanie Boonstra

Key returnees: D Lindsay Koch, GK Steph Petrowitch, F Keara Chicquen, D Courtney Duggan

Key departures: F Carolina Romeo, GK Sydney Hamm

CALGARY – The Calgary Dinos are ready to turn over a new leaf for the 2013 season as the most important addition to the team is a new head coach.

Henre Meyer takes over the program after Jenn Swagar was at the helm for six seasons and hopes to make an impact in his first year with the Dinos.

The young Dinos squad has a lot to prove. Coming off a winless 2012 season that included just one tie and seven losses, Calgary’s hunger for wins is evident throughout the team, from veterans to first-years.

Two Canada West all-stars return to the pitch for their final years with the Dinos and will be key leaders this season. Forward Keara Chicquen and defender Courtney Duggan will help guide the Dinos in achieving their goals set out for this season. On top of that, defender Lindsay Koch and goalkeeper Steph Petrowitch return for their fifth and final years after sabbaticals and will share their experiences with younger athletes and preparing them for what’s ahead.

On the younger end of the team, forward Brittany Whittaker and defender Melanie Boonstra will hope to find their way onto the pitch this season, as well as newcomers Yuno Iwabuchi and Kieran Watson. The latter two Dinos join the squad while completing their undergrad and master’s degrees, respectively.

The Dinos field hockey season opens up on the road in Vancouver when they take on the UBC Thunderbirds Sept. 14-15. Their home opener will take place the following weekend when they host the Victoria Vikes, Sept 21-22.




2012 conference record: 3-4-1 (2nd)

CIS tournament: 0-4 (5th)

Last CW title: 2002

Last CIS title: 2008

Key additions: F Emily Bennett, F Stefanie Hatch, GK Larissa Piva

Key returnees: D Kyla Kirby, D Kathleen Leahy, F Kayleen van der Ree, F Amanda Kurianowicz

Key departures: D Chelsea Morton, D Carly Krestanovich, D Lizzie Yates

VICTORIA – The Victoria Vikes will celebrate a special year as Lynne Beecroft will enter her 30th year as head coach and the Vikes will also play host to the 2013 CIS women’s field hockey national championship. With the departure of three starters, the Vikes will still retain a core of players fit to vye for their 12th national banner.

Beecroft and the team’s toolbox will start key returning veterans including 2012 Canada West All-Star and senior midfielder Kyla Kirby, who brings a variety of leadership skills on and off the pitch. The Vikes will also return defender Kathleen Leahy, who recently returned from a summer of hockey with both the junior and senior Canadian national teams. Leahy helped Canada to a 14th-place 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. Kurianowicz has already proven she 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 was off last season.



Canada West Annual Publication: www.azbycx1928.com/cw78hjfdbje/

About Canada West Universities Athletic Association

Canada West is consistently the most decorated of the four conferences in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, winning 100 CIS national over the last 10 seasons. Comprised of 17 schools from the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada West produces numerous major award winners and Academic All-Canadian student-athletes each year, with many going on to athletic success around the globe in pro leagues or events such as the Olympics, Paralympics or Universiade Games. canadawest.org / canadawest.tv / @cwuaa on Twitter

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.