Arnar Bernhardsson didn’t need to spend a lot of time motivating his players to be prepared for provincials.
As the host team this week for the B.C. high school girls AAA field hockey championship, the Kelowna Owls have saved their best for last.
“All my players are excited to showcase their stuff and they’re ready to play,” said Bernhardsson, the Owls head coach. “They’ve improved tremendously since the start of the year, and they’re hungry to get on the pitch and show what they can do.”
The Owls, ranked No. 6 in province, will get it going bright and early on Wednesday morning when they battle 11th-ranked McMath Secondary at 7:30 a.m. on the artificial turf by the Capital News Centre.
KSS will continue pool play Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. against No. 15 Charles Best, then will battle No. 2 South Delta on Thursday at 10 a.m. at CNC. The playoffs will begin Thursday afternoon.
Handsworth is ranked No.1, South Delta is second, with Carson Graham No. 3.
The 16-team tournament will also feature games at UBC Okanagan’s Nonis Field.
With just one Grade 12 player on the roster—captain Chelsea Marshall—it’s safe to say the Owls will be among the youngest teams at provincials.
But based on their progress from the start of the season, their conditioning, and being on home turf, Bernhardsson expects his club to challenge for a top-eight finish.
“We took some trips this year, played some top teams and really improved,” said Bernhardsson.
“We played all the top five teams, we didn’t win any of those, but we were close in all of them. I think for the girls, finishing in the top half is pretty realistic and anything higher, we would be pretty happy with that.”
From an organizational standpoint, Bernhardsson said Kelowna’s version of provincials just might rival the best ever held in B.C.
He credits longtime field hockey coach and advocate Lorne Buna for his tireless efforts in putting the pieces together for the three-day event.
“His contributions to field hockey in the province are unbelievable and he’s done a tremendous job in making the event a major class-act,” Bernhardsson said. “The programs are top quality, we’ll have a photographer at the banquet, teams will be piped in for the final, the players will be introduced by name—they’re all things that are going to make it a better production that in the past. Lorne has stepped it up a notch and we think people coming in will be impressed and remember these provincials.”
The championship final is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on the artificial turf in the Mission (CNC).