Lakers strong on defence

Senior girls' field hockey team drops opener to Kelowna

Taya Laird of the Kelowna Owls (right) battles Penticton Lakers Anje Grakul for ball control during secondary school seniors girls field hockey action at  Penticton Secondary School this week. The host team dropped a 1-0 decision to the visitors.

Taya Laird of the Kelowna Owls (right) battles Penticton Lakers Anje Grakul for ball control during secondary school seniors girls field hockey action at Penticton Secondary School this week. The host team dropped a 1-0 decision to the visitors.

You wouldn’t know the Pen High Lakers senior girls’ field hockey team lost its first game Tuesday.

Their body language didn’t show it. No sad faces. No heads down after a 1-0 defeat to the Kelowna Secondary School Owls at Pen High in AAA Okanagan Valley Senior Girls Field Hockey League action.

There were several positives for the Lakers.

“I was really pleased with the team play. I saw lots of good passing, good positional play,” said Lakers coach Shaun Johnston, who is assisted by co-coach Eva Koch. “I was really impressed with our goalie. Caroline Rahkola was really strong in net.”

Rahkola made a few important saves including one on a penalty stroke she knocked to the side with her blocker.

“I think I did pretty good,” said Rahkola. “They (Owls) played well. Pretty intense at some parts.”

While the Lakers weren’t able to generate a lot of offensive chances, Johnston liked the opportunities they did have. There were a few close calls and they created opportunities from penalty corners. One late in the game missed the net by about a foot.

“Just a little fine-tuning on that,” said Johnston. “Hopefully we can pop one next time.”

What impressed Johnston against the Owls, whom she described as solid and physically strong, was that her players hustled. Teammates supported each other and some displayed their individual skills. Johnston has seen improvement over the last three weeks.

“I thought we contained them really well,” said Johnston. “They had a lot of pressure, but they didn’t really get many scoring chances.”

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Lakers returned from a tournament in Oliver where they went 3-1. After opening with a 1-0 loss to Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries Secondary School Rockettes, the Lakers defeated Surrey’s Clayton Heights Secondary Nightriders 4-0 on Saturday. Sarah Kirschmann, Ginger Herbert, Anna Jo Grandbois and Merle Schrader provided the offence. Herbert scored both goals in a 2-1 win against Agassiz. In their final game, the Lakers faced Southern Okanagan Secondary School White and won 2-0. Kirschmann and Grandbois scored, while Sterling King earned the shutout.

Johnston said the Oliver tournament gave them games against even competition. The Lakers were able to work the ball at both ends and came together as a team.

“It helped boost our confidence,” said Rahkola. “We knew what we were capable of.”

The Lakers next league game is in South Kamloops against the Titans. Johnston said with the playing surface being turf, having the players spread out will be important as the ball moves quickly.

“They are also strong so we’ll have to be disciplined about our positioning and defend really well,” she said.