An Island championship tournament filled with intrigue and drama sent Shawnigan Lake School and host Brentwood College School to the provincial AA field hockey championships, while the Frances Kelsey Breakers were left at home.
It all started the night before the tournament, when Lambrick Park informed organizers that they had international students who were ineligible to play at the provincial championships.
“With a roster of 20 athletes, we were hopeful that they would be able to bring a team,” Brentwood head coach Alanna Martin recalled. “We promised that if removing their international players would make them a weaker side, we would take that into consideration and make it a good experience for their athletes. Unfortunately, Lambrick could not field a team without these athletes.”
It was too late to redo the draw and change all the other plans for the tournament, so it was decided that Lambrick could attend to give the other teams in pool B games to play, but that Lambrick would automatically place sixth in the tournament and miss a chance to attend provincials.
Brentwood and St. Michaels University School both played games against Lambrick, with automatic wins. SMUS beat Brentwood 3-0 in the game that determined first and second place in the pool.
In pool B, Shawnigan Lake School beat Kelsey 5-0 and Glenlyon Norfolk 3-0, leaving the match between Kelsey and GNS to determine second place. The game was tied until the final seconds, when Kelsey was awarded a penalty corner. With time expired, Kelsey scored a beautiful goal that got called back because the ball didn’t leave the circle before the goal was scored — a call that would have huge implications for the Breakers.
Because Shawnigan scored more goals against Kelsey than GNS, second place in the pool went to GNS. Had the teams finished with equal goal-differentials, it would have gone to a shootout. With Lambrick out of the running, Kelsey ended up placing fifth overall. Prior to Islands, it was decided that the fifth-place team would have the chance to challenge the fourth-place team for the last provincial berth if they hadn’t met previously in the tournament, so Kelsey now had to wait and see who finished fourth.
Shawnigan beat Brentwood 6-1 in one semifinal.
“It would have been much higher, but our goalie had a stellar game,” Martin said. “For the second half, we stepped up and scored the only goal in the tournament against Shawnigan.”
SMUS held off GNS in the other semi, winning 3-1.
Brentwood faced GNS for third place, in what turned out to be one of the closest games of the tournament. Brentwood took a 1-0 lead into the last minute of play when GNS was awarded a penalty corner. Brentwood held on and secured third place.
“That was a huge victory for us,” Martin said. “We have a very young team. We beat [GNS] at the Friendship Cup, but they didn’t have all their guns.
Unfortunately for Kelsey, the Breakers had already faced fourth-place GNS during pool play, meaning they couldn’t challenge for the last provincial berth, and their season came to an end.
“The bounces did not go in favour of Kelsey this year,” Martin said. “Your heart breaks for them.”
Shawnigan secured first place on the Island with a dominant win over SMUS.
The four Island qualifiers will head to the AA provincials in Vancouver on Nov. 7-9. Shawnigan is a contender for the provincial title, Martin said, while Brentwood will be happy to repeat last year’s top-eight finish.
“We’re just so inexperienced, even our Grade 12s,” Martin said, noting that none of Brentwood’s players are involved in the sport outside of school. “At the end of the day, win or lose, we have to be happy.”