In its first year as a three-tier tournament, the long running Friendship Cup continued its tradition of starting the high school field hockey season in excellent form.
"This year, we had 14 teams competing in the Friendship Cup and due to the varying degrees of experience, I decided to split the teams into three divisions: premier for the highly competitive teams, competitive and development for the less experienced teams," said Brentwood College School head coach Alanna Martin, one of the tournament organizers. "My only regret is that the tournament could not be held at one venue."
In the top tier, Shawnigan Lake School won the division, beating Cowichan Secondary 2-1 after losing to the same team by the same score earlier in the day.
"It was a good start to the season," said Shawnigan coach Benjamin Koepp. "The tournament was really strong. Our team was tired after playing four games in a day."
Team captain Casey Crowley and assistant Annabel Irwin scored for Shawnigan in the final and were just two of the many players who impressed the coach at the tournament. Goalies Leigh Campbell and Katherine Swanson, both new to the position, also came up big on many occasions.
Cowichan coach Jen Budding was pleased with her team's first outing of the season.
"We look like we have potential," she said. "There's always room for improvement, especially at the beginning of the season."
Cowichan won the AAA Island championship last year and finished second at provincials. Budding isn't sure what this season has in store for the young team.
"They'll have to work hard to repeat the success they had last season," said the coach. "Now they've had a taste of what it's like to play senior hockey with senior-experienced players."
Mark R. Isfeld from Courtenay won the competitive division, followed by St. Michael's University School. While her team didn't crack the final, Martin was pleased overall.
"Although it did not seem like we were successful on the scoreboard, we were thrilled with the improvement displayed by the team over the two days," she said. "We are blessed to work with a good group of athletes and are looking forward to working with them this season.
Frances Kelsey's junior team swept the one-day development division tournament, with Brentwood's juniors placing second and Queen Margaret's School also in the mix, earning a pair of ties and getting spectacular goaltending.
Shawnigan and Brentwood will take part in the Independent Schools Association tournament this weekend. Shawnigan is looking forward to renewing its rivalry with Collingwood. The teams have met in the last two provincial AA finals, each winning once, and Shawnigan beat Collingwood to win last year's ISA tournament. They played to a tie at this year's Friendship Cup.
© Cowichan Valley Citizen