The University of Victoria women’s field hockey team kicked off their 2013 season with a bang last week. They won all three games of their pre-season tour of Boston. Last year’s similar tour was a split decision, losing to Yale and Dartmouth and defeating Harvard and Brown. This season, the Vikes had huge success on their Ivy League tour, defeating Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth.
Second-year Vike and third-year Kinesiology student Kathleen Leahy says, “It was great to have a better tour than last year’s. It gives us all reason to believe we are going to be a stronger team.”
The team met in New York with only a few days to bond off the field before testing themselves against the Yale Bulldogs. Leahy, the 19-year-old Victoria native, sees team chemistry off the field as being equally important as on-field chemistry.
“It [team bonding] has a huge impact on the field. The girls I know the best off the field are the same ones I can trust on the field,” Leahy says.
After defeating the Bulldogs 3-2, the Vikes had a day off before their match against Harvard. The Vikes thoroughly defeated Harvard 4-1. Leahy and Rosie Beale each notched a pair of goals in the Vikes’ resounding victory.
In their final Eastern test, the Vikes took on Dartmouth College. Dartmouth got on the scoreboard first but was answered quickly with the first of Amanda Kurianowicz’s four goals. The Vikes rallied to defeat Dartmouth 6-3 and finished 3-0 in their pre-season tour.
Kurianowicz was a huge impact player for the Vikes all tour, and Leahy expects huge things from the Calgary native this season.
“I mean she [Kurianowicz] scored six goals on the tour, so we expect her to be awesome all season,” Leahy said.
Leahy has high hopes for the whole team as they shift focus to their Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) season. The CIS National Championship is in Victoria this season, and with that in mind the Vikes are looking to have a strong season. As host, the Vikes have already locked up a spot in the CIS championship, but that’s not good enough for Leahy.
Leahy says, “We want to earn our bid to nationals. We want to play our way in and not just rely on our host bid.”
Two teams from the West and two from the East will descend onto the UVic campus for the 2013 CIS National Championship from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. Leahy knows the competition is tough nation-wide and is hoping the extra team bonding from their recent trip will pay dividends down the line.
“We know UBC is always good. The national team trains out of Vancouver, so UBC always has a few national team players,” Leahy says. “U of T always has a strong program too, but you never know until the season gets going. You can always be surprised who comes out strong.”
The Vikes kick off their CIS Canada West season in Calgary on Sept. 21. Following a pair of games against the Dinos, the Vikes head home for a four-game home stand. Leahy expects the team to be competitive come nationals time.
“We are all really excited for the season,” Leahy says. “It’s nice to know that we improved since last season and that we will continue to grow before nationals.”