Maddie Secco of Oak Bay handles the ball as she moves past and Claire Seeliger of Frances Kelsey at the Island field hockey championship played at the Cowichan Sportsplex on Saturday.

Oak Bay field hockey poised for B.C. run

Injured Claremont forced to bow out of provincial challenge game

Maddie Secco scores most of Oak Bay High’s goals so it was fitting the star field hockey player managed the only goal of the Island final at the Cowichan Sportsplex on Saturday.

Oak Bay won the Island championship over Frances Kelsey secondary school 1-0.

Both teams are off to provincials at Kelowna secondary, Nov. 9 to 11.

Secco’s winning goal came off a rebound on a short corner just a couple of minutes into the game.

“Oak Bay had a lot of possession in the final but couldn’t get any more goals, it was a really exciting game,” Oak Bay co-coach Kira Graham said

Frances Kelsey provided the toughest competition for Oak Bay throughout the tournament.

Oak Bay started the Island tourney with wins over Mount Doug on Thursday and Dover Bay on Friday, before tying Frances Kelsey 1-1 in “horrible weather” on Friday morning.

It set up a semifinal against Cowichan, which Oak Bay won 3-0, while Frances Kelsey beat Claremont 3-1 in the other semifinal.

Claremont roared back to defeat Cowichan 2-1 in the third place game and book a spot in a challenge game versus a mainland team this week for the final spot at provincials.

Oak Bay’s chances of winning provincials rest on the shoulders of Secco, a Grade 12 student who scores about 90 per cent of the team’s goals and assists on most of the others, Graham said.

Secco has been training with the national team since she was 16 and will play for the prestigious Stanford University hockey team next year on a full ride scholarship.

“Of course, our success relies on the whole team but our team tactics are also built around Secco’s skill level,” Graham said.

Without official score sheets on hand, Graham conservatively estimated Secco tallied a dozen goals the Islands, including a four-goal game followed by a three-goal game.

“Secco has extremely good stick-handling and has the speed to beat other players. All of our strategy is around her, the players understand that.”

Graham is a former UBC Thunderbird and is focused on the team’s offence, while University of Victoria Vikes rookie Kathleen Leahy, who graduated from Oak Bay last year, leads the team’s defensive strategy.

Secco isn’t the only national level player on Oak Bay. Grade 11 student Gillian Kirkpatrick (U16 national) is also a big part of the team’s success.

The team is anchored by rookie Katie Hansen in net. Despite not having played field hockey while growing up, Hansen’s figured the position out, Graham said.

Claremont yield to injuries

Claremont had just one spare on the sidelines during the first day of the Island championships, and just two heading into the weekend.

Then the inevitable happened as three players were injured for Wednesday’s (Nov. 2) challenge game versus Chilliwack, leaving the roster short, said teacher sponsor Pam Moore.

Included on Claremont’s injury reserve is co-captain Rosie Beale, a Grade 12 student who is on crutches this week with a swollen knee. It’s a tough way for her, as well as co-captain Annie Walters-Shumka and other Grade 12s on the team to end their high school playing careers, Moore said.

“(Getting third at Islands) was a great achievement for a team that was unexpected to get that far,” she said. “It’s really sad, but we just don’t have the depth. The girls were not very happy when I told them we had to cancel.”

Defeating Cowichan, an annual powerhouse in B.C., was a thrill for Claremont, who haven’t been to provincials since Moore was still coaching four years ago.

This year’s team was coached by Sarah Sheridan, who played for Moore, as well as parent Marian Simmons.

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