By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
After winning the CIS bronze medal in 2014, the Vikes had their sights set early on the national title as hosts of the 2015 CIS Women’s Field Hockey Championships in Victoria from Nov. 5-8. A large core of the Vikes squad from last season, including the likes of Kathleen Leahy, Andrea Jones and Amanda Kurianowicz, returned for another year while former co-captain and fifth-year defender Alexis Veljacichad graduated. Head Coach Lynne Beecroft returned for her 32nd season alongside assistant coach Krista Thompson, who began her 19th season alongside Beecroft.
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The Vikes began their Canada West campaign strongly with 3-0 and 2-0 victories over rivals the UBC Thunderbirds at the UVic Field Hockey Turf, Sept. 19-20. The opening weekend victories began a streak of five straight wins for the Vikes that included a sweep of the Calgary Dinos and another win over the T-Birds in Vancouver, B.C. With three games remaining, the Vikes had already clinched their 17th Canada West title, sitting at 5-0-0 on the season.
A 1-1 draw against UBC on Oct. 11 ended the winning streak and was the first game all season that the Vikes had conceded a goal. The regular season wrapped up for the Vikes with 1-0 and 4-0 wins over the Dinos for a total regular season record of 7-0-1.
The Vikes then welcomed the Toronto Varsity Blues, the Guelph Gryphons and UBC Thunderbirds to Victoria for the 2015 CIS Women’s Field Hockey Championships from Nov. 5-8. Leahy led the charge for the Vikes in a 4-1 win over the Varsity Blues, scoring three goals in the first game of the tournament. The Vikes dropped a 2-1 decision a day later to UBC by two late goals in the second half. A 1-1 draw with the Guelph Gryphons in the final game of the round robin meant the Vikes finished first with a 1-1-1 record and a goal difference of +2 to earn a spot in the Nov. 8 gold medal game against rivals UBC.
With the Vikes leading 2-1 late in the gold medal match thanks to goals from Lizzie Yates and Rosie Beale, the T-Birds tied the game with zero seconds left on the clock off a penalty corner to take the championship match to a shootout. Kurianowicz scored on her attempt for the Vikes, but UBC were able to put three goals past Larissa Piva to capture their fifth consecutive CIS championship in women’s field hockey.
An undefeated regular season and silver medal performance helped the Vikes claim multiple awards in the Canada West and CIS. Beecroft earned her first CIS Coach of the Year Award in 32 seasons at the helm of the Vikes program to go along with Canada West Coach of the Year honours for 2015. Leahy was awarded the CIS and Canada West Outstanding Contributor awards, and was a CIS and Canada West All-Star alongside teammates Kurianowicz, Yates, and Annie Walters-Shumka.
2015 AWARD WINNERS
Canada West Coach of the Year: Lynne Beecroft
Canada West Outstanding Contributor Award: Kathleen Leahy
Canada West All-Stars: Amanda Kurianowicz, Kathleen Leahy, Annie Walters-Shumka, Lizzie Yates
CIS Outstanding Contributor Award: Kathleen Leahy
CIS Coach of the Year: Lynne Beecroft
CIS All-Canadians: Amanda Kurianowicz, Kathleen Leahy, Annie Walters-Shumka, Lizzie Yates