Sept 18,2014(ISN) – VICTORIA – This weekend two perennial field hockey powers will clash, as the University of Victoria Vikes will visit mainland rivals the UBC Thunderbirds for a double header on Sept. 20-21 in Vancouver. The Vikes are 2-0 in the Canada West, while the T-Birds have yet to face conference action after a bye on opening weekend.
Mention the CIS national field hockey championship and there are only two schools that come to mind. The University of Victoria Vikes and the UBC Thunderbirds have combined to win 26 of the 37 CIS championship titles since 1977 with UBC claiming 10 in the past 16 years, while the Vikes had their run of winning nine in 14 years between 1989 and 2002.
With the centralization of the Canadian national program in Vancouver, the CIS national title has always managed to find its way back to the Canada West. Within the conference, UBC has won 24 Canada West titles including a streak of 10 in a row (2003-12), while last year the Vikes won their first conference banner since 2002 to bring their total to 16.
The history speaks for itself as the three-time defending CIS champions, the UBC Thunderbirds, have continued to be on the rise. This year, however, things are different on both sides of the pond as the T-Birds lose seven starters, six of whom were national team players. It is also a new era for UBC who lose long-time head coach Hash Kanjee but gain Olympian and former assistant national team coach Robin D’Abreo. The ‘Birds retain just four national team players (Hannah Haughn, Rachel Donohoe, Poonam Sandhu and Lauren Logush) to UVic’s one (Kathleen Leahy).
The Vikes show a good spread of experience with nine third-year players, while their rookie class has already found their way into starting positions. First year defender Kristina Walters-Shumka and fellow rookie Lindsay Cole have been impressive in multiple positions for the Vikes.
In goal, the one-two punch of Larissa Piva and Sheriden Goodmanson has kept the Vikes’ goals for and goals against record to 13-3 including pre-season games.
Midfielders Kathleen Leahy, Annie Walters-Shumka, Andrea Jones and Mei Lin Cheung have been consistent playmakers in the middle of the pitch, while Amanda Kurianowiczcontinues to lead the charge up front.
Last weekend the Vikes opened their season with a 6-0 and 1-0 win over the Calgary Dinos but it’s always a different kind of game when the Vikes play the ‘Birds.
UBC’s home pitch at Wright Field is also home to Canada’s national team program, making UBC the natural hot bed for team Canada players to be student-athletes. With Rio 2016 qualification in the distance, several of the UBC T-Birds committed to the national program will be focusing on their Olympic qualification training. Among them are Kate Gillis, Abigail Raye, Sara McManus and Natalie Sourisseau, all of whom still have eligibility left.
This weekend could go either way as the ‘Birds boast a young and fresh line up with a brand new coach, while the Vikes show a variety in experience but have only head coachLynne Beecroft who knows what it’s like to hoist the McCrae Cup as national champions.
The 11-time CIS champs, the Vikes, and the 15-time and three-time defending CIS champs, the Thunderbirds, will face off twice this weekend on Sept. 20 and 21. Both games will be at 1:00 p.m. at UBC’s Wright Field in Vancouver, B.C.
Scouting the UBC Thunderbirds
2014-15 CW Current Record: 0-0-0
2013-14 CIS Tournament Placing: 1st
2013-14 CW Record: 4-1-3 (2nd)
Last CW Title: 2012
Last CIS Title: 2013
Key returnees: F Hannah Haughn, D Rachel Donohoe, M Poonam Sandhu, GK Lauren Logush, D Sophie Jones, M Kat Davis
Key additions: F Sarah Keglowitsch, F Keesha Khehra, D/M Jasmeen Dhaliwal
Key departures: D Shanlee Johnston, GK Bea Francisco, D Miranda Mann, M Natalie Sourisseau, F Kate Gillis, F Abigail Raye, D Sara McManus