Inner drive pushes Hornets to sixth

A strong motivation within the South Okanagan Secondary School Hornets pushed them to improve in the AA girls field hockey provincials.

SOSS Hornets finished sixth during the AA field hockey provincials in Victoria after winning the Okanagan Valley championship.

SOSS Hornets finished sixth during the AA field hockey provincials in Victoria after winning the Okanagan Valley championship.

A strong motivation within the South Okanagan Secondary School Hornets pushed them to improve on their 2010 eighth place finish in the AA girls field hockey provincials.

On Sept. 13, 2011 SOSS was engulfed in flames and by the end of the day most of it was gone. Oliver Mayor Pat Hampson described it as a “tragedy.”

“It’s a huge loss for the community, both emotional and dollar-wise,” Hampson told the Western News at the time. “The school has been there since 1948.”

The group of 18 Hornets wanted to work hard and show schools in the province what they were capable of.

“Although we as a team never talked about it, it was definitely there,” said Hornets co-captain Caitlyn Bennett. “We were up against teams that had all the material things a team could have. We were happy to be there together but still wanted to show we deserved it, and had earned it.”

Going 2-2-2 during provincials at Glenlyon Norfolk in Victoria Nov. 2 to 4, coach Ian Gibson said his team had one bad game to finish sixth. They started with a 3-0 win against Chilliwack, then beat Summerland in a penalty shootout.

“It was weird to go down and play a team from your own area,” said Gibson, of the Summerland team, which placed eighth. “Played pretty well that game.”

They earned ties against Glenlyon, who had one junior national player and tied Collingwood.

“The team played outstanding,” said Bennett. “We took all the learning from throughout the year and really put them together. Despite a few lapses, it was great.”

Of the 18 players, 11 were experiencing the the tournament for the first time.

“It was exciting to see the competition and get to represent our school at such an event,” she said. “This was my third provincials and definitely the best experience. I enjoyed watching and playing against teams that used a lot of different strategies than we did. We are a grass team where as most of the other teams play and practice on turf fields, some of them year round.”

With the Hornets being among the youngest teams, Bennett said it was a great experience to gain confidence and enjoy themselves.

For Bennett and co-captain Celina Ruhland, the experience had more value because of their leadership role.

“We just wanted to lead our team and let them know that we and our coaches are happy with everything we had accomplished,” said Bennett. “The provincials were a big lead-by-example opportunity and it felt good to do your best and it was a great feeling knowing your teammates are looking up to you and learning from your strengths and weaknesses.”

In the game for fifth and sixth place, the Hornets played Lambrick Park from Victoria and lost 2-1.

“It was a great game,” said Gibson, who feels positive about the future with 14 players returning. “We just didn’t score enough. The girls played really well, had energy. To come sixth is good.”