Provincial berth up for grabs for Lakers field hockey

The Pen Hi Lakers field hockey team is competing for a provincial spot at the Okanagan Valley championship this weekend.

PEN HI LAKERS defenders try to clear the ball from the front of the net in field hockey action Monday at Pen Hi against the visiting Kelowna Secondary School Owls. The Owls blanked the hosts 3-0.

There’s a buzz among the improving Pen High Lakers field hockey team.

On Oct. 29, a win over the Mt. Boucherie Bears in Kelowna clinches the squad a berth into provincials.

“We are really excited about valleys, but excited about the chance to play for a spot at the provincials,” said Lakers coach Shaun Johnston, following a 3-0 loss to the Kelowna Secondary Owls on Monday. “That’s what we are playing for on Saturday.”

It will be the third time this season that the Lakers and Bears have collided. The teams first meeting on Oct. 11 at Pen High resulted in a scoreless tie. They met again on Tuesday in Mt. Boucherie after the Lakers and Owls played their rescheduled match in Penticton. The Lakers earned a 2-0 win against the Bears on goals by Kathryn Hollman and Morgan MacDonald, both assisted by Agatka Koczij. Kayla Sande earning the shutout.

With the valley championship being played on artificial turf, the Lakers will do some practices on the Pen Hi running track, as the surface is similar.

“It gives us the idea the ball moves quickly. You have to pass stick-to-stick or it’s gone,” said Johnston.

The Lakers rematch against the Owls went better because it was played on grass, which they are used to.

“When we play them on their home field, it’s artificial turf. It certainly allows them to move the ball more quickly,” said Johnston, whose team lost 10-0 in Kelowna earlier. “They took advantage of that. I think we have also improved since then.”

Johnston was happy with Monday’s result.

“We defended really well,” said Johnston.

The Lakers worked on spreading out their positioning on the field and getting the ball to the outsides. The Lakers also did what they could to keep the ball away from the middle. Johnson said when players move the ball to the outside, there’s more room to move.

“I think our hitting has improved. Just the ability to clear it out of there,” she said.

The Lakers were also more tenacious defending. The Lakers received strong performances from Maggie Harries, goalie Kayla Sande made some great saves and defensively Jean and Jena Grakul were very strong.