How good does winning a B.C. high school AA field hockey championship feel? Collingwood's Steph Gillies (left) and Devon Litherland leave nothing to the imagination. (Varsity Letters photo by Howard Tsumura)
Feature High School Field Hockey

Collingwood calling! West Van’s Cavs awaken from halftime doldrums to top Crofton House for B.C. AA field hockey title

SURREY — Jaimie Chrystal wanted the third time to be the charm, yet she and her Collingwood Cavaliers’ teammates couldn’t deny the small matter of a 1-0 halftime deficit and a lack of team cohesion.

That’s where the West Vancouver school stood at halftime of the B.C. high school senior girls Double A field hockey championship game Friday afternoon at Surrey’s Tamanawis Field, as they faced their arch-rivals, Vancouver’s Crofton House Falcons.

It was the third meeting of the season between the two teams, with the Falcons having won the first two.

It was also the third straight season the two teams has met in the provincial final. Collingwood won back in 2015, while Crofton House won last season.

Back-to-back goals from Kelsey Stephenson and Kaiden Stanley, however, were the result of a changed mindset, one which helped the Cavs win their second B.C. title in three seasons.

“We were frantic in the first half,” said Chrystal, “and when we got down it brought us back to the games we had against them at the beginning of the season. 

“That scared us,” she continued. “But at the half, we had a little talk. We kind of settled down, took some deep breaths and calmed ourselves. All of that brought us back to the way we can play, as a team… with better passing and better communication.”

Collingwood’s Meg Mauro (left) helps teammate Kelsey Stephenson celebrate the latter’s game-tying goal in the second half of Friday’s B.C. girls high school AA field hockey championship final. (Varsity Letters photo by Howard Tsumura)

What has never changed is the pitch of the rivalry between the two schools. Despite the fact that many of the Cavs and Falcons are club teammates, or have known each other through the sport throughout their high school years, they take no prisoners on the pitch. They do, however, become friends again after the games.

“We came out a bit flat to start the second half and Collingwood was on us,” said head coach Andrew Schouten. “They had us on our heels and they buried their chances. They had their opportunities and they put them in. We did, too, but the ball just didn’t bounce our way today.”

After Lauren Fotheringham had given the Falcons a 1-0 lead at break, Stephenson was able to equalize off a scrambled play early in the second half.

Off a corner, Stephenson wound up with the ball and her point-blank shot from the stroke mark found its way to the backboards.

Not too soon after, Stanley scored the winner off a right-hand attack into the defence, depositing a hard shot into the right corner of the net.

Bronwyn Bird (front) of the Collingwood Cavaliers plays ball control along the back against the Crofton House Falcons in Friday’s B.C. girls high school AA field hockey championship final. (Varsity Letters photo by Howard Tsumura)

“Our whole game plan is to pass the ball,” Collingwood co-head coach Ashleigh Gold explained. “We tell the girls that we have 11 on the field and 18 on the team and you can’t win it by yourself. We were just too individual in the first half but in the second, we played as a team.”

Added co-head Catherine Underwood: “It’s an amazing atmosphere and we love playing Crofton because they are such a great team. Today we outplayed them. Today we were unified. It was a victory that was truly spectacular because we have 11 new players on this team and we didn’t think we would be at this point, playing in the final. It’s awesome.”

Of course Chrystal can speak for all of her fellow Cavaliers seniors in capturing the essence of the moment and where her high school experience in the sport stands for her.

“It means more than anything,” she said. “I’ve played field hockey on a lot of teams since I was seven, and this is by far my most favourite team. We have the best coaches ever and we’re a really close team. We’re bonded, so winning here today is more than just winning a trophy, it’s winning something for each other.”

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