It is rivalry weekend for the University of Victoria Vikes, as this weekend, Oct. 10-11, the women’s field hockey team travel to Vancouver alongside their Vikes soccer counterparts to play the UBC Thunderbirds. The Vikes women (4-0) take on the T-Birds (2-2) for a double-header that has the possibility of mathematically dictating the Vikes as Canada West champions.
The Vikes are coming off a road sweep of the Calgary Dinos after scoring four penalty corners in two 2-0 victories. With the wins the Vikes are now perfect mid-way through the season with zero goals against. The Thunderbirds, who had a bye weekend last week, defeated Calgary 2-1 and 2-0 on Sept. 26-27, while in the teams’ opening weekend the Vikes were victorious in their two home games against the T-Birds. The Vikes won 3-0 and 2-0 over UBC.
“We are definitely on track win-loss wise but we would like to start scoring more free play goals,” said Vikes women’s field hockey head coach Lynne Beecroft, whose team scored all four goals against Calgary last weekend on penalty corners. “We also want to work a bit more on our defending, especially on quick transitions. We also need to continue to work on staying composed on the ball.”
Although the Vikes were victorious in their opening weekend against the T-Birds, UBC returns a very prominent fixture to their team. Thunderbirds midfielder Hannah Haughn returns to the lineup after missing the opening weekend because of her commitments to playing in New Zealand. The current national team member and recent Pan American bronze medalist enters her fourth year and in her first three seasons has been CIS Rookie of the Year, a three-time CIS All-Canadian, two-time CIS Championship All-Star and a CIS championship and Canada West leading goal scorer.
“Hannah has the ability to dictate UBC’s tempo for sure,” adds Beecroft. “We will definitely need to take measures to neutralize her in the middle of the field but all that being said we will not take anything away from our game.”
The Vikes have benefited from a scoring-by-committee style as although fourth-year forward Amanda Kurianowicz has netted three times, other Vikes Andrea Jones, Lizzie Yates, Kathleen Leahy and Rosie Beale have all scored at least once. Meanwhile, for UBC, Sarah Keglowitsch has scored two goals and Gaby Jayme and Haughn have each tallied once.
“We’ve scored six goals this season on penalty corners, which is more than last year but we still want to be sharper on our corner options,” described Beecroft as three of the Vikes’ penalty corner goals against Calgary deflected off a defender and into the goal. “That being said we are getting shots towards goal and that’s what is important.”
The Vikes boast an impressive veteran class including seven fourth years, while freshman Alexis De Armond has already made a valuable impact in the back line. Midfielders Jenna Dhillon, Mei Lin Cheung, Leahy and Jones will be pivotal in equalizing against UBC’s midfield line, which will likely include the likes of Haughn, Jayme and Keglowitsch.
“We want to get back to playing Vikes hockey,” said Beecroft, who enters her 32nd season as head coach of the Vikes. “We need to remain composed and play two-way hockey. Our forwards need to come back and double team and we need to continue to be smart, position wise. Ultimately, we really need to play together.”
Two wins can put the Vikes in a confident position to claim a Canada West banner, while the Vikes will still have two games left to play, Oct. 24-25, in Victoria against Calgary.
The Vikes and Thunderbirds will clash at 11 a.m. on both Oct. 10 and Oct. 11. Games will be played at Wright Field in Vancouver, B.C.