Head coach Arnar Bernhardsson would have been content with a top-eight finish at the 2015 B.C. high school AAA field hockey championships.
His overachieving Kelowna Owls exceeded those expectations last weekend in Shawnigan Lake with a fourth-place effort for the second consecutive year.
The Owls, one the the youngest teams in the province, reached the bronze medal game of the 16-team tournament before bowing out Saturday 3-1 to the Argyle Pipers.
“We played really well in every game,” said Bernhardsson. “I’m proud of the girls and have nothing but good things to say about the way they played and the way they handled themselves at (provincials).”
The Owls—featuring five Grade 12s, just one Grade 11 and ten Grade 10 players—opened the tournament with a 2-0 loss to West Vancouver, before rebounding in a big way with a 10-0 whipping of Sullivan Heights.
In monsoon-like conditions, Letisha Mapstone scored five times, while Deziree Day added a hat-trick.
In their third game, Lauryn Guy scored both goals for Kelowna in a 2-1 victory over Shawnigan Lake.
With just two hours between games, KSS went back to work and edged Gleneagle 3-2 in the quarterfinals.
Then, in the semifinals, luck wasn’t on the Owls’ side in a 1-0 loss to the Handsworth Royals. Bernhardsson had to sit out three of his key defenders due to injuries, while the legitimacy of the game’s only goal was in doubt.
Some KSS players thought the ball passed over the end line but, according to Bernhardsson, neither umpire made the call and the play was allowed to continue.
Handsworth took advantage for the game’s only goal.
“My guys didn’t play to the whistle and Handsworth just kept playing, so that one cost us,” he said. “We had some raw luck in that game.”
In the bronze medal match against Argyle, the Owls had a couple of good short corner opportunities but couldn’t convert. The Pipers responded with the first three goals of the game, before KSS broke the shutout with a late goal.
Bernhardsson said the Owls displayed their resolve throughout the tournament.
“I’m super happy with the effort,” he said. “The thing about our team is that they never give up, they just keep coming no matter what the score is. That’s why most teams don’t like playing us.”