The young University of Victoria Vikes womens field hockey team will have their first Canada West test Saturday in Calgary against the Dinos.
Vikes coach Lynne Beecroft will be travelling to Alberta with 11 rookies and five veterans.
Im excited about this group of players, said Beecroft, who is entering her 29th season at the helm of the team. We have good speed up front, solid defence and people who can score.
Our team really came together during the exhibition tour in Boston [Vikes had a 2-2 record.] When we got home, we played the Island Wildcats in an exhibition game and did everything well in a 3-0 win.
With only three teams in Canada West UBC Thunderbirds and the Dinos the Vikes will also play seven games in the Vancouver Premier Womens Field Hockey League. They also have several exhibition contests scheduled against the Wildcats.
The Premier league will be very good for us as there are many ex-university and national team players on the teams. We will have very competitive games against all those teams.
Some of the players Beecroft expects to generate offence are Amanda Kurianowicz from Calgary, Mei Lin Cheung from Kamloops and Amanda Watson from North Vancouver.
Amanda [Kurianowicz] is a natural forward and she will surprise a few people. Mei will pop in a few goals and Amanda [Watson] has good speed and she has the ability to score.
One of the important aspects of field hockey is being able to convert penalty corners into goals.
We will be better on penalty corners this year with the likes of Rosie Beale and Kyla Kirby. I dont see any real weakness on our team, although we are young.
Beecrofts starting goalkeeper will be Sheriden Goodmanson, who attended Lambrick Park last year.
The other key defensive players for Beecroft are veterans Kirby, Carly Krestanovich and Chelsea Morton. In 2010, Kirby was named a CIS and Canada West all-star.
After this weekend, Kathleen Leahy will return to the Vikes after playing for Team Canadas Under-21 squad at the Junior Pan American Championships in Mexico. Leahy missed all of last year with an Achilles injury.
I have really been impressed by Kathleens mental toughness. She missed all of last year and when she was given the green light, she worked hard to get ready for this year. She will be one of the players to watch for as she reads the plays so well.
Our team will have some challenges this year but well just have to play solid defence and keep attacking. UBC will again be very strong this year as its program is almost like the national or junior national team.
The first Canada West home games for the Vikes are Sept. 29 and 30 against UBC at the UVic Field Hockey Turf. Both games will start at 11 a.m.
The top two teams from Canada West advance to the CIS Championship in November in Toronto.
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