A balanced lineup carries Cowichan girls far

Cowichan's Kim Smith finds herself at close quarters against the competition during the B.C. AAA senior girls’ field hockey tournament in Coquitlam.
— image credit: Heather Goodman

Over six games, an amazing profile of the current Cowichan Secondary School senior girls’ field hockey team developed.

This group of talented girls, including many Grade 10s, held their own against highly-regarded competition and wound up finishing second in the provincial AAA senior girls’ high school tournament at Coquitlam.

Unlike many prolific Cowichan teams of the past, this collection of players could seemingly switch gears depending on the situation with an incredibly-balanced lineup.

They finally ran out of gas in Friday’s final and lost 4-0 to Handsworth of North Vancouver. But it was a great ride and the team may have surprised itself along the way and certainly some of its opponents.

“It’s just amazing,’’ conceded Cowichan coach Gillian Braun, who’s been at the controls of the best teams in Cowichan field hockey history. “Going into it, the team had hopes of top eight, considering last year they didn’t qualify. From where we started to where we ended up was a fantastic result.

“This is probably the most balanced I’ve ever seen out of a Cow High team. It’s nice to have that balance through the lines.’’

The first game against Delta was a huge confidence-builder that brought a 4-1 win.

“Most teams have four or five outstanding players and this team was no different,’’ said Braun. “We just kept plugging away.’’

Going against McMath of Richmond in the second pool game, Cowichan trailed 1-0 and 2-1 but showed terrific resilience to pull out a 3-2 victory.

“I wasn’t exactly impressed with our effort,’’ said Braun. “But we did what we needed to.’’

Kelsey Goodman, one of the team’s Grade 10 standouts, suffered an injury in that game and did not return for the rest of the tournament.

Cowichan went on to lose 1-0 to Argyle but still qualified for the quarterfinals as No. 2 in its pool.

That led to a meeting with Heritage Woods and Cowichan prevailed 1-0. The defence of Kim Smith, Lauren Kellar, Shylayne Davidson and Michelle Pewarchuk was outstanding in that game, Braun said, and goalkeeper Tara Eriksen came up with some big saves.

Cowichan went on to face host Gleneagle in the semifinals and really went to town to win 4-1.

“They have two fantastic players and a strong supporting group,’’ said Braun. “We were on and they were off.’’

Handsworth ended the Cinderella run to the title.

Cowichan has a bunch of players returning next year and will seriously contend again.

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