The J. L. Crowe Hawks senior girls field hockey team capped off one of its most successful seasons with a strong showing at the BC ‘AA’ Field Hockey Championship in Surrey on Friday at Tamanawis Field.
Crowe came into the tournament ranked fifth in the province out of 16 teams, and opened with convincing 4-0 and 10-0 wins over South Okanagan Secondary and Chilliwack’s GW Graham on Wednesday.
The road to the medal-round got steeper, however, and Crowe fell to eventual champion Collingwood, 6-1, in the final game of the round robin, and then lost a tough 4-1 match to Little Flower Academy in Thursday’s playoff to bump the Hawks from medal contention.
“We dominated our competition all season,” J. L. Crowe field-hockey coach Donna Hebert said in an email to the Times. “We knew going in that because we hadn’t really been challenged all year, it was going to be difficult for us on our defensive end. We worked really hard at the tournament but we simply faced two very strong teams and didn’t have the experience to pull off the wins.”
The Hawks faced Brentwood College School in the consolation round, with the prospect of matching their fifth-place finish at last year’s provincials. Crowe routed the Vancouver Island team 6-1 and then faced Windsor, a strong Vancouver team, for fifth place.
Windsor scored early on a penalty corner to take a 1-0 lead. The Hawks pressed and dominated the match, but were thwarted at every opportunity by the Windsor goalkeeper, also a Team B.C. teammate of J. L. Crowe forward Camryn Haines.
Ultimately, the lone goal stood up and the JLC Hawks finished in sixth place with three wins and three losses.
“Since our season was so great, I think we were expecting to come in a little bit higher than sixth,” said Haines. “We didn’t realize the other teams were going to be so strong as well, and I think we did our best, and we really all worked together.”
While the Hawks deserved better, the provincials were the culmination of one of the best seasons coach Hebert has enjoyed in her 25-plus years of coaching field hockey at Rossland Secondary School (RSS) and J. L. Crowe.
“We played with heart all season long, and had a team that grew very close as a group,” said Hebert. “I’m super proud of our girls, and all their coaches and mentors, who have done an amazing job representing our school and our community.”
The Hawks amassed 26 wins, four losses and one tie, while scoring an impressive 150 goals in two Okanagan tournaments and three in the Lower Mainland, as well as local matches against L.V. Rogers and Stanley Humphries. The only local team to come close to the scoring prowess of the Hawks was Hebert’s 2000 RSS team that went on to win gold at the ‘AA’ provincial championship and counted 132 goals that year.
Coach Hebert attributes the team’s success on the offensive end to the strength along her midfield line that continuously found ways to feed talented forwards Elle Mayer who tallied 39 goals and Haines with an astounding 57 goals.
“Field Hockey is generally a low scoring game and to have a player who has the ability to score such a significant number of goals in one season is rare, and to have two of them is totally impressive,” said Hebert. “Elle has speed that is unmatched anywhere in the province in ‘AA’ and is nearly impossible to catch when she gets on a break, while Cam has the ability to dictate play whenever she has the ball, she is very difficult to contain.”
For Haines, her prolific scoring touch is a happy result of the team’s success throughout the season, and the ability of coach Hebert to continue to develop the skill and character of young athletes.
“I think I had a great season, and I really enjoyed playing on the school team again and having Hebert coach me again,” said Haines. “I loved playing with the girls, and I couldn’t have scored any without the team, the mid, and the defence, I got a lot of help from them.”
Haines also played for the BC U18 Field Hockey Team earlier this summer and attended the Canadian National Team’s U18 ID camp at UBC last month. Both Mayer and Haines will continue to train at higher levels this winter, and – like former Team Canada player Thea Culley and many others – more are sure to follow.
“J. L. Crowe has all the disadvantages in the sport of field hockey as a result of our location and lack of proper playing surface, but one thing we do have are great athletes and great kids who play with heart,” said Hebert. “This season has allowed the rest of the province to see what we can achieve and we have had nothing but positive comments about our team and our players.”