The Mark Isfeld Ice senior girls field hockey team placed third in the AA Island Championships this past weekend to earn a spot at the Provincials in Burnaby on Nov. 7 -9. This is the first time the Mark Isfeld senior girls have qualified for the B.C.s
The Vancouver Island tournament was held Oct. 19-20 in Duncan at the John Ferreira artificial turf field. The Ice faced stiff opposition from down south, especially in defending B.C. AA champs Shawnigan Lake School (SLS) and St. Michaels University School (SMUS). All of the schools Isfeld faced were private schools who regularly practise on the artificial turf surface.
The Isfeld girls were prepared to do battle and had competed well in the North Island, placing second in the league. The Ice’s first game at the Islands was against Brentwood College, a team they had fared well against in league play. The Ice had a shaky first half as Brentwood controlled play.
Fortunately Isfeld had Kenzie Hanson, goalie supreme, and she stopped every attempt made by the Brentwood offence. Once the Ice got the tournament jitters out of their system, they got it together in the second half and potted three goals against the mighty Red and Black.
The first goal scored was a deflection by Brady Gailloux passed across from the right side by Avery Snider. This was just what the Ice needed as they were able to relax and take control of the game. Lex Hornstein added two goals to give the Ice the 3-0 win.
Next, the Ice faced SMUS, whom they hadn’t played all season. Due to a poor pre-game warm-up the Isfeld girls came out flat and SMUS capitalized within the first minute. Isfeld were stunned and never recovered, taking a disappointing 3-0 loss.
On Saturday the Ice faced the very talented Shawnigan Lake School whom they had met twice before in league play. Both times they had lost by only one goal and coach Moira Ashlee was hoping her team would upset this over-confident side.
The game was action packed at both ends of the field. Isfeld’s back line of Sophie Reimer, Sabine Rankin, Cassidy Marinus and Erin Hallier were consistently pressured and worked hard to keep the ball out of their defensive circle.
Hanson was outstanding. One amazing save saw her dive to the side of the net, just catching the ball with the edge of her stick to deflecting the ball wide of the right post. “She was on fire!” Ashlee said.
Isfeld also had their chances to capitalize on the SLS goalkeeper with shots by Snider, Holly Phillips, Gailloux and Emma Balneaves. However, the game ended in a scoreless tie.
Isfeld’s next game was their last match in the round robin and they needed a win against Glenlyon Norfolk School from Victoria. The Ice came out on fire, putting immediate pressure on the GNS goalie. The first goal around the five-minute mark of the first half was scored by Danielle Vanbergen from a pass by Snider. A few minutes later the Ice struck again as Marisa Benisky scored assisted by Michaela Ashlee.
GNS made a strong offensive thrust, resulting in a penalty stoke being awarded, and the GNS player made no mistake. Isfeld came right back, taking the wind out of GNS’s sails. Danielle Poirier, Isfeld’s centre mid, carried the ball into the offensive circle and fired a reverse stick hit into the far corner of the goal. Isfeld never looked back, and goals by Snider and Hornstein secured a 5-1 win.
After the points from each match in the round robin were tallied, Isfeld found themselves in a playoff for third and fourth place. The winner would go to the B.C.s, the loser would go home. Isfeld were determined to come in third place, but would have to beat Brentwood College once again.
This time, Isfeld got off to a good start and were pressuring the Brentwood defence soon after the starting whistle. The Ice struck first on a great play by Snider who made a couple of skilful moves around the Brentwood defenders and placed the ball neatly into the back of the net.
Nearing the end of the first half Brentwood had a series of penalty corners. putting tremendous pressure on the Isfeld penalty corner defensive team. Saved by the whistle, Brentwood was unable to score and the first half ended with Isfeld up by one.
The start of the second half saw even play at both ends, but Isfeld netted their second goal early with another great offensive rush by Snider that capped a 2-0 win. Hanson’s third shutout of the tournament backstopped the Ice to a berth at the Provincials.
Isfeld coaches Ashlee, Kim Murcheson and Sandi Poirier were very pleased with the effort by all the girls. “They played consistently hard all day and showed that they really wanted to be one of the three teams to go to the Provincials,” Ashlee said. “I am so proud of each and every one of the girls for the effort they showed. They really earned their spot and proved that they deserve to go.”
– Isfeld Ice field hockey