Several field hockey players from the Cowichan Valley brought home medals from the India Club Junior Tournament in Surrey late last month.
The Valley was represented by two Cowichan Field Hockey Association teams, as well as athletes on B.C. provincial teams and other participating clubs.
A Cowichan team won the gold medal in the U17 girls division for the fourth time in the last five years, beating seven other squads, including the third-place U15 BC Blue team that featured Valley girls Jenna Berard and Jillian Wallace, and the fifth-place U15 BC White team with Shon Lumb, Hanna Murray and Angela Ramwell.
According to coach Steph Yeats, hard work by all of the players and a hat trick by Sophia Murray helped propel the Cowichan U17 team to gold.
Yeats felt her team’s best performance came in their 3-2 victory over BC Blue as they got two goals from Annika Kushner and Marina Ellison potted the winner in the dying seconds to send the team to the final.
The final against the Polar Bears was a close contest. Hannah Craig put Cowichan ahead first, but the Polar Bears drew even before the end of the first half. With three minutes to go, Ellison came through in the clutch again, and the Cowichan defence held strong for the remainder of the game.
"As a coach I was very proud of my team our defence was amazing, midfield was incredible and forwards always giving 100 per cent effort throughout," she said, adding a shout-out to Mariah Ketch who broke her thumb in the first game but became her team’s biggest supporter.
Another Cowichan team, coached by Jamie Goodman and Ian Anderson, claimed the bronze medal in the U14 girls division. Players on that team included Alyssa Dietrich, Annika Kneen, Anya Hermant, Arica Windsor, Ashlyn Toljander, Birkley Anderson, Chloe Langkammer, Jenna Goodman, Karissa Birch, Kasey Percival, Kealey Watson, Mackenzie Hall, Madisyn Styba, Melanie Robertson, Niki Leech and Reese Nagy.
The Cowichan U14 team, which hadn’t played together prior to the India Club tournament, placed second in their pool before winning the final 4-1. Chelsey Cleemoff was the lone Cowichan product on the India Club Lightning team that won the U21 women’s division. The second-place U18 BC Blue team included Valley players Sara Goodman, Sara Lowes and Robin Fleming, and Shawnigan Lake School graduate Casey Crowley, and the fourth-place U18 BC White team included Brittany Smith and Emma Dame.
The BC Blue team finished first in their pool, then lost the final in a shootout with the Lightning.
In the U21 men’s division, goaltender Toby Owen helped the Red Devils club team to gold, beating out a field that included the second-place Ontario U21 and the U.S. National U21 team, who placed third.
Up next for the B.C. provincial teams are the national championships. The U15 squads will compete at the U16 Nationals in Brampton, Ont. on July 28-Aug. 1, and the U18 teams will compete at the U18 Nationals in Surrey on Aug. 5-9. Fleming, Smith and Sara Goodman will follow that up with Field Hockey Canada’s junior development squad camp on Aug. 11-21.