Shawnigan girls push Collingwood to the limit

Silver-medal performance by the Shawnigan Lake School senior girls’ field hockey team was a great result, considering the level of experience of most of the girls. - Stephen Lane
Silver-medal performance by the Shawnigan Lake School senior girls’ field hockey team was a great result, considering the level of experience of most of the girls.
— image credit: Stephen Lane

Shawnigan Lake School and Collingwood School have quite a running battle going in girls’ AA high school field hockey.

The two teams met yet again in the provincial final last week at Burnaby Lake and it was Collingwood’s turn to take the title away from the defending champions.

The fact Shawnigan even made the final with such a high turnover from last year’s squad of quality players due to graduation is a great testament to the level of hockey being produced by the program.

“They matured as a team in this tournament,’’ said co-coach Kelly Koepp.

The players obviously felt disheartened by a 1-0 loss to Collingwood in the provincial final, but Koepp and husband co-coach Benjamin couldn’t have been more proud of them.

“We made them aware of what they accomplished,’’ said Koepp. “I would say all of them except four had never been to the provincials before.’’

Unlike last year when Shawnigan held the upper hand on Collingwood in experience, the tables turned a bit.

“They’re quite an experienced team,’’ said Koepp. “They’ve got mostly senior players.’’

Some nervousness showed on the part of the Shawnigan team in the early going.

“Our girls were a bit scrambly at the beginning,’’ said Koepp.

Collingwood took advantage to score at the 14-minute mark with the only goal it would need. Shawnigan defended well on a short corner, but Collingwood converted the rebound.

“Our girls pretty much dominated after that goal,’’ said Koepp. “They picked it up.’’

But some of that inexperience showed in the remainder of the game, as Shawnigan couldn’t find the equalizer.

“A lot of the teams were quite inexperienced or young,’’ said Koepp. “We’re quite young as well. We have seven juniors on the team.

“We knew if they played their best, they could  be in the final and win.’’

Shawnigan almost pulled it off despite the intense pressure, but it bodes well for next year when the returnees will obviously have a better understanding of what it takes to win the big game.

With six games in four days, it was a real challenge for the girls and Koepp called upon the key members of last season’s championship squad to lead the way.

“A good portion of our players actually played six games,’’ said Koepp.

Taylor Hamm never left the field once during the tournament.

Shawnigan squeezed by the competition to take first place in its pool after beating Okanagan Mission 4-0, going scoreless against Rossland and nipping Crofton House 1-0 in an exciting game.

That Crofton House game was the key for Shawnigan to advance.

“We needed to win to come through because the points were so tight,’’ said Koepp. “It was like a mini final.’’

The playoff round began with another convincing win, 3-0 over Southridge, and then Shawnigan got a golden goal from Nicole Crowley in overtime to take out South Okanagan 1-0 en route to the final.

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