With a second-place finish in the season-opening Friendship Cup tournament and a first-place finish at their own John Ferreira Memorial Tournament, the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds are off to a solid start in the high school field hockey season.
The two-time defending champions lost nine graduating players from last year, but three Grade 12 captains — Jenna Berard, Hanna Murray and Jillian Wallace — have stepped up to provide leadership for this year’s young squad.
“We have a good core and our new players are super excited and quick learners,” head coach Caitlin Erickson said. “I think we will be really good this year with this group.”
Only three teams competed in the Ferreira tournament on Sept. 25: The T-Birds, Frances Kelsey and South Delta. Cowichan won both their games to finish atop the field.
The tournament is typically larger, but it conflicted this year with the Independent Schools Association championships in Vancouver, preventing private school teams from participating.
“There are usually at least five or six teams,” Erickson said. “It depends who can come. It’s just like any sport, it fluctuates from year to year.”
Berard scored all three of Cowichan’s goals as the T-Birds beat Kelsey 2-0 and South Delta 1-0.
The T-Birds will face their biggest test of the season this coming weekend at the Bridgman Cup tournament in Victoria. Most of the best teams in B.C. attend the Bridgman, so it will show the T-Birds where they stand as they aim to reach the provincial tournament.
“We’ll see what we’re up against,” Erickson said. “It will be good to go up against other competition and see how we stack up against them.”
Erickson is optimistic about how the team will fare as the season progresses.
“There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of team spirit, really dedicated team players,” she said. “With all that, we should have a really successful season this year.”