The Comox Valley Field Hockey Association hosted the 32nd annual Westerly Sept. 12-13 at the G.P. Vanier synthetic turf facility. The local club had not hosted the tournament for over 15 years but with the new turf field, the tournament came back to the Valley and the Eagles celebrated by going 5-0 en route to taking the title.
Joining the Eagles were Nanaimo, Cowichan, two teams from Victoria and one from Seattle. The format was a round robin and the games began early Saturday morning with the Eagles taking on Nanaimo.
Nanaimo always brings a tough squad to this tournament and this year was no different. The Eagles found themselves down two goals by the end of the first half and an injury to their goalkeeper Sherrie Carter. Fortunately, defender Jenn Jolliffe also plays goal so she put on the pads for the second half.
The Eagles regrouped and came out strong, scoring two quick goals from Colleen Schmidt and Teagon Grafton. The game remained tight until the last two minutes when Nicole Gaiga sneaked the ball past the Nanaimo keeper to clinch the win.
The Eagles’ second game of the day was against an always powerful Cowichan squad. Fortunately for the Eagles, Cowichan were unable to field a full squad and played with only 10 players. The game was very close, but the Eagles managed to pull of the win by a lone goal by Wendy Gibbons.
The final game on Saturday for the Eagles was against Victoria 1. Despite the hot weather along with fatigue setting in, the Eagles pulled off a 2-0 victory, giving Jolliffe her second shutout of the day.
On Sunday, everyone needed an extra long warm-up as the bodies were suffering from the previous day’s games. The Eagles were feeling quite confident not having lost a game and leading the tournament in points. However, they needed to win at least one game to put them in a strong position to win the tournament.
Their first game was against Seattle. The Eagles jumped to an early lead with a nice penalty corner goal by Colleen Schmidt. Comox Valley dominated this game only allowing Seattle to enter in their defensive end a handful of times. The game ended 2-0 as Katie Leith-Mills scored the second goal for another win and another shutout for Jolliffe.
The Comox Valley squad watched nervously as Nanaimo played their last game against the Rebel Ramblers. If Nanaimo won they would have been tied with the Eagles for points. But Nanaimo tied the Ramblers 0-0, leaving them in a distant second to the Eagles in the overall standings.
Going into their last game against the Ramblers, the Eagles were relaxed and confident knowing they could lose and still win the tourney.
The Eagles struck first with a goal from Nicole Gaiga. The Ramblers rebounded and immediately went on the attack. After steady offensive pressure from the Ramblers, they put back a nice first-time goal behind keeper Jolliffe to even things up.
The Eagles did not panic and came back with three more goals, one from Kim Jaccard and two more for Gaiga, getting the hat trick. With only a few minutes left in the second half, the Ramblers made a last offensive rush and put another ball between the pipes. The game ended in a 4-2 victory for the Eagles and the tournament win.
Nanaimo finished second with Cowichan third, Seattle fourth, Victoria 1 fifth and Rebel Ramblers (Victoria) sixth.
Special honours go to the solid play by the Eagles’ defensive lines consisting of Tish Morton, Tia Chartrand, Rachel McMahon, Danielle Poirier, Moira Ashlee, Sandi Poirier and Jenn Jolliffe.