By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
September 24, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey will host their ultimate rivals, the UBC Thunderbirds, this weekend, Sept. 28-29, for a double-header series for the first look at taking the top seed of the Canada West. Both teams boast a 2-0-0 record from a pair of wins over Calgary.
As hosts of the 2013 CIS/FHC national championship, the Vikes women have already secured a spot at the four-team tournament, while the T-Birds have already taken the edge over Calgary for the other Canada West spot. For head coach Lynne Beecroft’s 30th season, the Vikes are looking to bump UBC from the top of the conference this weekend to gain a better seeding at the tournament and vie for the conference banner, last won in 2002.
The Vikes will definitely get their head start this weekend, as UBC boast two separate line ups this season with several of their key starters away with the Canadian senior national team in Argentina for the 2013 Pan American Cup. Among the missing players are last year’s Canada West Player of the Year, Kate Gillis, Rookie of the Year and Championship MVP, Hannah Haughn and CIS All-Canadian Natalie Sourisseau. In addition the Birds miss keeper Lauren Logush, rookie Ashley Kristen, midfielder Abigail Raye, also a former CIS Rookie of the Year, as well as gritty defenders Sara McManus and Shanlee Johnston.
As for the Vikes, who remain undefeated since their pre-season tour in late August, leading goal scorer Amanda Kurianowicz, also this week’s Canada West Third Star of the Week, will be the key thwart to the UBC defence line. The second-year forward scored in each of the Vikes’ wins over Calgary.
Also making healthy contributions for the Victoria side is fifth-year captain Kyla Kirby, who has been the midfielder pivot for the speedy and tenacious Vikes side. Canadian national team member Kathleen Leahy, who notched the game winner over Calgary last weekend, has provided a strong defensive contribution to the midfield line, while defenders Rosie Beale, Annie Walters-Shumka and Alanna Macdonald have been key anchors in the back field. Second-year keeper Sheriden Goodmanson picked up a pair of shutouts in the Vikes’ opening weekend.
The Thunderbirds will look to fifth-year defender and penalty corner flicker Miranda Mann to anchor the back line, while midfielders Caitlin Evans and Katie Jameson provide the experience in the midfield. Keeper Bea Francisco, a member of Canada’s junior national squad, will back the Birds between the pipes, while third years Cassandra Tayler and Katrina Davis have been key players stepping up in the absence of their regular starters. Three-time head coach Hash Kanjee will lead the pine for the T-Birds for his 21st season.
The Vikes will play the Birds four times in conference play, two at home and two on the road, and in all four games the Birds will be without their national team standouts. Anticipation will build as all eight UBC players away in Argentina will return for the national championship, Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at UVic, to vie for UBC’s third-straight and 14thoverall CIS banner. Meanwhile, the Vikes will be on the hunt for their 12th title.
The Vikes and T-Birds will go head-to-head this weekend on Sept. 28 and 29. Both games will start at 11 a.m. at UVic’s artificial water-based field hockey pitch.