The Richmond Herons have been crowned B.C. Field Hockey’s U18 Tier 2 club champions thanks to an unbeaten run at Cloverdale Athletic Park.
The Herons clinched the title with a 3-1 win over the Vancouver-based Polar Bears Field Hockey. Ironically both teams enter their final round-robin game still in championship contention. Richmond had 10 points thanks to a 2-0-1 record while the Polar Bears were 3-0-0.
McKenzie Chisholm erased a 1-0 deficit when she converted a set-up from Alison Marsh and Aish Sander.
The Herons then broke the 1-1 deadlock in the second half on a well-executed short corner as Marsh received the pull out pass from Lara Schmidt and set-up Sander who rifled home a one-timer to the far corner.
Brianna Azevedo added an insurance tally on a terrific effort.
Richmond’s road to the title included a 2-1 win over the Burnaby Bears in its opener on goals by Aida Minitsis and Marsh. The Herons then played to a 1-1 draw against the Delta Falcons with Marsh finding the back of the net, while Maddie Thacker’s goal was the difference in a 1-0 victory against Victoria.
The girls opened play Sunday with an 8-0 drubbing of Chilliwack. Minitsis scored twice with singles to Christina McDonald, Mya Snidanko, Lara Schmidt, Azevedo, Marsh and Sander.
It was the second provincial club title for Herons head coach TJ Sander who also guided his eldest daughter Harmony’s 1998 team to the U15 crown back in 2013. Ironically, Harmony and Aish happen to score the tournament winning goals for their respective teams.
“This provincial club championship was a huge team victory, with everyone being an important piece of the puzzle and coming together and getting stronger as the tournament progressed,” said TJ, who has also enjoyed plenty of success at the high school level at McMath. “I am extremely proud of every single player, as everyone’s contribution was key to the team’s success.”
It’s been one heck of a run for Aish in her final year of youth sports.
Back in March, she also captained the Richmond Ravens to the provincial Midget ice hockey title. She was a dominant two-way force playing centre midfield for the Herons.
Marsh proved to be a constant scoring threat from her central defender position. The team’s other co-captain — Sarah Mori — provided stellar defensive play from her duties at the back and in midfield.
Defenders Gracie Korac and Stephanie Non enjoyed strong tournaments, while goaltender Ellie Ehling came up with some clutch saves, especially in the second half against the Polar Bears.
Nicola Wigboldus, Sarah Godfrey, Azevedo and McDonald displayed great versatility in their play. Schmidt provided offensive depth on the last day of the tournament, being consistently involved in the attack that created offensive opportunities.
Smith and Mintsis played their best field hockey of the season, showing a strong effort and desire to compete for the ball and be a strong presence on the offensive attack.
Ellie Wan, Sabrina Fata and Snidanko all provided strong play and ball pursuit on the team’s offensive attack.
U16 regulars Chisholm and Thacker was joined by one other affiliate player — Isabelle Schaffer (U15) — to give the Herons’ some much needed depth with five games over two days.
The team missed the contribution of regulars Amanda Lee and Bay Larson who were unavailable for the tournament.