The Senior girls field hockey team took a break from local league action, travelling to Oakville, Ontario and the beautiful lakeside campus of Appleby College. There, SMUS looked to “three-peat” as National Independent Schools Invitational tournament winners.
The first game took place against the host school. The resulting 4-4 draw was played at a tremendous pace on a fast astroturf field. Appleby opened up a 2-0 lead with some crisp passing and clinical finishing, but a Josi Commichau goal, from a well-executed penalty corner, put the Blue Jags back into the game just before the break. Siri Knudsen, introduced off the bench, then was on the end of a couple of quick attacks to give SMUS a 3-2 second half lead. Appleby came roaring back and, with ten minutes to go, edged in front 4-3. However, a penalty stroke, converted by Jenna Dhillon, then tied the game. In spite of end-to-end attacks, that proved to be the final score. The Appleby coaches acknowledged that this had been the best high school field hockey game they had seen in the past few seasons.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the afternoon game against St. Catherine’s Ridley College was somewhat of an anti-climax, as SMUS dominated en route to a 6-0 victory. It was also the Donald and Boyle show, with the two sister combinations, Olivia and Emma and Kasey and Rylee, responsible for all the goals in what was a solid team effort.
Through to the semifinals, SMUS took on old rivals St. John’s-Kilmarnock from Kitchener-Waterloo. In a comprehensive 4-0 win, Dhillon (2), Emma Loughton and Jamie Boyle provided the offence, while goalkeeper Shinai Sorensen claimed the shutout. Commichau was perhaps the most influential performer on the field, tackling solidly and distributing the ball efficiently from her right midfield position.
The championship final, played in foggy conditions, and with a cold wind blowing directly off Lake Ontario, saw SMUS again take on Appleby College. On this occasion, the Blue Jags rose to the occasion from start to finish. The 2-0 victory was secured thanks to winning all the little battles for possession, tackling aggressively, passing accurately and maintaining all-round pressure on the home defense.
Dhillon, named Player of the Game, put SMUS in front, and, when Aveen Glen then connected with a wicked shot into the corner, there was no way back for the hosts. Among the supporting players who did so much, Becca Thomson showed excellent ball distribution from the back while Loughton did a wonderful job shutting down Appleby’s dangerous right winger. Chloe Keeler-Young also worked tirelessly in midfield.
All in all, it was a thoroughly satisfying victory for SMUS, and the school’s third consecutive tournament title. Hopefully, it will set the tone for the rest of the season.
On the immediate horizon is the prestigious Bridgman Cup at the University of Victoria over the Thanksgiving weekend, while the Island and provincial AA events feature at the end of October and early November.