Not unexpectedly, the Island AAA high school field hockey championship in Victoria last week came down to Cowichan Secondary and Oak Bay High, who battled for the upper hand throughout the season.
“We knew they would be our toughest competition of the tournament,” Cowichan coach Caitlin Erickson said.
With the Island title on the line, the teams once again went back and forth, going right down to the wire before Cowichan prevailed 2-1.
“It was really exciting,” Erickson said. “There were a lot of chances.”
Chloe Langkammer scored both Cowichan goals, sandwiched around Oak Bay’s lone tally. Oak Bay pulled out all the stops down the stretch in an attempt to tie.
“There was lots of pressure at the end of the game from them,” Erickson said.
The four teams in the tournament each played each other once in the round-robin competition. Cowichan beat newcomer Claremont in their first game last Thursday, and defeated Mount Douglas 4-0 on Friday morning. As the two finalists, Cowichan and Oak Bay both advanced to provincials. Third-place Mount Doug lost to Argyle from North Vancouver in a wildcard game earlier this week.
The Cowichan players pulled together to overcome some adversity over the course of the Island championships.
“We had a couple of injuries before and during the tournament,” Erickson said. “It really was a great full-team effort.”
Rookies Linnea Bothe, Rori Wratten and Laurel Hayes answered the call to step up.
“We were down a couple of regulars,” Erickson noted. “We counted on [the rookies] to fill spots and they did. All three had outstanding weekends.”
Grade 12 player Reese Nagy found multiple ways to contribute to the Cowichan effort.
“She’s so versatile,” Erickson commented. “We had her on the midfield line, on the defensive line. She was great everywhere we put her in the lineup. She had a really great tournament.”
Cowichan will head to Surrey next week for the provincial tournament hosted by Clayton Heights. The Thunderbirds hope to finish in the top quarter of the 16-team field.
“We’re hoping to come out first in our pool,” Erickson said. “And keep winning games and get into the top four.”
Teams like Oak Bay, Kelowna and Handsworth will be the biggest obstacles for Cowichan, who won the B.C. title in 2015 and 2016, then finished third last year behind Handsworth and Kelowna.
“The last couple of years, we’ve paired up with [Handsworth] in the final or semifinal,” Erickson pointed out. “Those are the teams we’re looking to beat.”