Despite a 5-1 at the provincial AAA girls field hockey tournament last week, the Cowichan Secondary School Thunderbirds ended up ninth in the 16-team field.
After finishing pool play with two wins and one loss, the T-Birds ended up in a three-way tie for first place, but when the tie was broken by goals for and against, they were dropped to third in their pool.
Cowichan had defeated Charles Best and Eric Hamber in the round robin, losing only to Argyle. In the end, Best and Argyle moved on to the championship round, while Cowichan went to the consolation bracket.
"It was devastating, considering that the girls had played so well and we won most of our games," coach Perri Espeseth said.
The T-Birds had gone into the tournament ranked third in the province, but the best they could do at that point was finish ninth, so they focused on doing that.
"We adjusted our dreams and made it to the consolation final and brought home the consolation trophy," Espeseth said.
Cowichan beat Riverside in the consolation quarterfinals and Heritage Woods in the semifinals before facing their local rivals, Frances Kelsey, for ninth and 10th place. Cowichan won 2-0. The team's three graduating players, Sara Lowes, Kelsey Goodman and Beth Corish, were among the best performers throughout the week, along with Brittany Smith and goalie Robin Fleming, who played particularly well against Heritage Woods and in the shootouts.
With most of their players returning, the future is bright for the T-Birds.
"I think it's very exciting," Espeseth said. "Even though they lost, I think they'll learn from their mistakes. It was a good lesson for the girls."