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Time is now for Vikes to bring 'A' game

The University of Victoria Vikes women's field hockey season has been like a wild roller-coaster ride. The team experienced many highs and lows in Canada West play, posting a record of six wins, four losses and two ties.

The University of Victoria Vikes women's field hockey season has been like a wild roller-coaster ride. The team experienced many highs and lows in Canada West play, posting a record of six wins, four losses and two ties.

Coach Lynne Beecroft hopes to have her team firing on all cylinders today as the Vikes go gunning for their 11th Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship (McCrae Cup) at the UVic field hockey turf.

"I think partly due to the fact that we were the host team, we had many ups and downs this year,'' said Beecroft. "But the good thing is that all season we were never down for more than one game. Now we just have to be at our best during the next four days to win the championship. I know that this team is capable of doing that.''

Standing in the way of the Vikes are four other teams -- defending champion Toronto Varsity Blues, UBC Thunderbirds, Guelph Gryphons and the Alberta Pandas.

"This year, it is anyone's tournament to win,'' said Beecroft. "All five teams have a legitimate chance of winning.''

The Vikes open up the round-robin portion of the championship today against Guelph at 11:50 a.m., followed by a 5:50 p.m. game against Toronto.

"Our team has had numerous scoring chances this year and hopefully this weekend we'll be able to score on a few of them. We have quite a young team and we've been led by fifth-year captain Ali Lee.''

The Vikes are treating this championship like a road trip as the team is staying in the host hotel. "Sometimes there is some added pressure of playing at home and we just want to make them as comfortable as possible.''

At last night's awards banquet, Lee was named to the All-Canadian team for the fourth time. Teammates Katie Tittler and Perri Espeseth were also selected to the team.

"We have been a little inconsistent this year,'' said Lee. "We have seen the best and the worst of this team. We knew that we were hosting this championship all year and I don't think that bothered us much. We just wanted to make sure that we earned our spot in the nationals.''

The Vikes finished second in Canada West behind UBC (8-2-2). Alberta gained the third spot from Canada West with a 3-5-4 mark.

"Lynne [Beecroft] relies on me to spark the team and be her voice on the field,'' said Lee. "I'm excited to be playing this championship at home. The fans can work like our 12th man.''

Each team will play four round-robin games and the top two advance to Sunday's 1 p.m. championship. The third- and fourth-place finishers will battle for the bronze at 10 a.m.

PENALTY STROKES: Toronto forward Cailie O'Hara was named the MVP (Liz Hoffman Award) for the second consecutive year. Guelph's Jessalyn Walkey was selected as the top rookie (Joyce Slipp Award), UBC's Tyla Flexman was named the outstanding contributor (Gail Wilson Award) and UBC's Hash Kanjee took home coach of the year honours (Marina van der Merwe Award) for the third time. . . . Victoria product Bunny Hughes, who plays with Alberta, was also named an All-Canadian.