Novice girls go unbeaten to win first tournament

It hasn’t taken long for the novice girls Cowichan Thunder to gel as a team.

It hasn’t taken long for the novice girls Cowichan Thunder to gel as a team.

Just weeks into its first season of existence, the team — which includes players from the ages of six to 11 — beat Juan de Fuca in a best-of-three series last weekend to win the Travis Bateman Tournament.

The teams were the only ones in the tournament, but that worked out great for both. The Cowichan squad is brand new, while JDF started up last year and includes players from all four Victoria-area minor lacrosse associations.

“It was perfect for both of us,” Cowichan coach Naomi Walser said. “We both needed some experience to get up to speed with the Mainland teams.”

The first game, on Friday, ended in a 3-3 tie. Bria Grounds scored twice and was named game MVP, while Lola Owen had one goal and received the Digger Award.

Grounds had four goals in the next game, on Saturday, leading the Thunder to an 8-4 victory. Owen and Elora Waardenburg had two goals apiece, and Molly Shea recorded an assist on her way to taking the Digger Award. Goalie Anikka MacDonald received MVP honours.

Finally, the Thunder locked up the title with a 4-1 victory on Sunday. Shea, Paisley Hildebrandt and Grace Shepherd all notched their first goals of the season, and Grounds rounded out the scoring, while Owen recorded an assist.

Although they play as a novice team, the Thunder includes players as young as mini-tyke age, as well as two peewee-age girls that were allowed to age down because of the lack of a novice team in the Cowichan Valley, or any openings on the Victoria-area peewee girls squad. All but three players on the team have no previous experience.

“It was pretty cool to see the large age range come together as a team, with the older girls mentoring the younger girls,” manager Jayme Shea said.