Perennial powers clash for conference field hockey banner

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

October 23, 2913, VICTORIA (ISN) – The season has come down to one game, as the University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team will host the UBC Thunderbirds for the conference-title-determining game on Oct. 26.

The Vikes and T-Birds are currently tied with 4-0-3 records and will be playing for the Canada West banner and No. 1 seed entering the CIS Championship the following weekend.

FULL SCHEDULEhttp://govikesgo.com/schedule.aspx?path=fhockey&tab=fieldhockey2 

CIS TOURNAMENT INFOhttp://govikesgo.com/sports/2013/9/9/WFH_0909132206.aspx 

CIS championship history has largely followed in the laps of both western powerhouse schools who have collectively won 25 of the 38 total championships hosted since 1975. The Vikes dominated the 80’s and 90’s eras now totalling 11 CIS banners, all under current head coach Lynne Beecroft, while the Thunderbirds, who boast the same home turf of the Canadian national team program, have emerged in the 2000’s to now claim 14 McCrae Cups.

Head to head the Vikes and T-Birds have a long history of rivalry and while the T-Birds have claimed the past 10 Canada West titles, the Vikes have already shown that they can keep up with the internationally experienced Thunderbirds.

COACHING STAFF

Both squads boast long-term coaching legends including Hash Kanjee in his 21st season with the Thunderbirds and Beecroft in her 30th with the Vikes. Both coaches boast strong coaching records and a number of titles won. For their supporting cast, Krista Thompson enters her 17th season with the Vikes, while Kimo Linders has been a prominent assistant coach with Kanjee. Both Thompson and Linders have spent time coaching with the national team program.

UP FRONT

This weekend the Thunderbirds will be without their lethal goal scorers Kate Gillis and Hannah Haughn, who lead the conference in scoring but are away with the national team in Australia. The ‘Birds will rely on the offensive talents of international recruit Sophie Huijskens and third years Molly Driscol and Cassandra Tayler. For the Vikes, speedster Amanda Kurianowicz will continue to lead the charge along side veterans Stefanie Hatch and Kayleen van der Ree.

CENTER OF THE PITCH

The midfield war will edge slightly in favour of the Vikes who have had the entire season to shape their form led by captain Kyla Kirby, national team member Kathleen Leahyand second year Mei Lin Cheung. The trio of Vikes have had the opportunity to play several exhibition, regular season and premier women’s games together, while the T-Birds have had rotating players due to national team commitments. This weekend the Thunderbirds will lose Rachel Donohoe, currently away with team Canada, but will gain back former All-Canadian Natalie Sourisseau and the consistency of fifth year Caitlin Evans and Poonam Sandhu.

IN THE BACK

Both teams play very structured systems in their backfield and for the Vikes that is largely anchored by the distribution of Alanna Macdonald, the tackling of Alexis Veljacic and the control of Andrea Jones. For the T-Birds, who juggle a range of depth, this weekend will feature fifth-year captain Miranda Mann, rookie Sophie Jones and third year Samantha Saddler.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Vikes keeper Sheriden Goodmanson and T-Birds netminder Bea Francisco are on par playing all 420 minutes of the regular season with four goals against, while Francisco edges Goodmanson 4-2 in shut outs earned.

MISSING IN ACTION

The Canadian women’s national team program has caused several hiccups for the T-Birds roster due to the Pan American Cup, Hockey 9’s and Australia tour that spanned the months of September and October. In the Canada West only UBC has been affected and this weekend they will be without standouts Abigail Raye, Sara McManus, Shanlee Johnston, Gillis, Haughn and Donohoe.

The Vikes and T-Birds will clash at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at UVic’s field hockey pitch. The Canada West banner, all-stars and major awards will be presented following the game. The full match but not the awards will also be broadcast live at http://canadawest.tv

Note: The 2013 CIS/FHC women’s field hockey championship will be hosted at the University of Victoria from Oct. 31-Nov. 3. For more information on the championship please visit http://govikesgo.com/ciswfh 

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