The 2017 U SPORTS Field Hockey National Championships is taking place this weekend at UBC’s Wright Field. The event will feature a best-of-three competition between the Canada West champions, UBC Thunderbirds and the OUA champions, York Lions.
LOCATION: Wright Field, UBC Campus
GAME TIMES: FRI – 18:00 | SAT – 17:00 | SUN – 14:00 (if necessary)
LIVE STREAM: http://sportscanada.tv/usports/
FOLLOW USPORTS: @usportsca | @usportscanada | @usports_fh
The matchup is a tale of two stories. UBC is in search of their seventh straight McCrae Cup victory while York is in the hunt for their first banner. OUA Rookie of the Year, Jaslan Stirling highlights a York Lions team who won the OUA title for the first time since 1996. Stirling has also attended Field Hockey Canada Junior Identification Camps and despite being one of the youngest players on the pitch, brings a level of experience to her game.
Leading the way for UBC is a handful of Canadian national junior players that are currently training with the Vancouver-based Senior National Team. Rowan Harris, Hannah Eborall and Margaret Pham are among those training with the senior national team. Eborall said the opportunity to get high-level repetitions with the national team has really accelerated her growth as a player.
“Being able to get quality coaching is something that has really helped me,” she said. “I would really encourage players to come out to Vancouver to play if they can.”
Despite York being a relative unknown to the T-Birds, the second-year UBC stalwart believes her team can secure the title on home soil.
“We’ve had a really great season. We have been working really well together as a team,” Eborall said. “We’ve never played York before so it should be a great competition.”
UBC’s projected starting goalkeeper is Rowan Harris. She trains full time with the Senior National Team as well and said that committing to both teams is busy but worth it
“It’s a heavy load but the support that both coaching staffs provide is great,” Harris said. “They work together to make sure we aren’t over training so we can perform our best.”
Harris said she feels the university series provides tremendous value to her not only because of on field competition but in preparation and how she carries herself.
“You get to learn that extra level of professionalism. You learn what it takes to compete,” she said. “…and you get to play every weekend. It’s great, you get to compete to the best of your abilities every week.”
National Junior Team head coach and Senior National Team assistant coach, Steph Andrews, said the competition is a great showcase of university field hockey in Canada and provides an opportunity for young athletes to expand their role.
“The university system provides a daily training environment for players not centralized with the women’s national program,” Andrews said. “It’s also a good chance for those centralized athletes to take on leadership roles they might not otherwise get to with the national team.”
With the competition taking place in Vancouver, Andrews said it’s a chance for all athletes to show their skills and development and gain recognition in front of national team coaches and players.
“The university season provides a great competition platform to play and perform. The national team coaches will have the chance to watch and track progress as well,” she said.
Feature photo courtesy of usports.ca