One of the highlights of the University of Prince Edward Island Field Hockey season is this weekend on the campus of the University of Toronto.
After losing the 2014 Championship game 1-0 to Dalhousie the UPEI Field Hockey players and coaches made a commitment to train throughout the year, play provincial summer league, fund raise and prepare to win the 2015 Atlantic University League and the opportunity to compete towards the 2015 CIS Championship through the OUA Championship. This opportunity no longer exists due to an AUS Motion passed at the 2015 AGM requiring three AUS member schools to commit to participating in a sanctioned AUS league.
UPEI head coach Sheila Bell who has returned after a two year leave and has told the players " business as usual" so the team is busy preparing for the 2015 season.
The season begins with a trip to Ontario to participate in the U of T Invitational Tournament this weekend on the new water base turf fields ( Pan American site ) where the the Panthers will play four games against OUA schools.
The first game is Friday evening against the University of Toronto Blues. The Blues were Silver Medal winners at the 2015 CIS Championships.
Commented team manager Barb Carmichael, "Nothing like going up against one of the best OUA and CIS teams in the country. It will feel like a championship game for sure". On Saturday UPEI will play Queens, followed by Western and MacMaster on Sunday. All four games will give the Panthers great competition playing against some of the top teams in OUA.
The Panthers come into the U of T tournament with an experienced defense, midfielders and goalies. Fourth year player Katherine Koughan, 2014 1st Team All Canadian, MVP for Atlantic League in 2013, will lead the team in the sweeper position, as well as controlling offensive and defensive penalty corners for UPEI. Katherine has played for PEI U-18 team for 3 years along with Sydney Stavart, 2016 Atlantic League All Star, Kayla Arsenault, MacKenzie Deighan, Hannah Gormley and Alyssa Ferguson. This group of players have played at the U-18 Nationals as a strong defensive unit and are backed up by top goalie Grace Sullivan.
First year Panther Sarah Sear, a Colonel Gray High School grad, comes in with a lot of speed and experience having played at U-16, and U-18 Nationals for PEI. Sarah has also attended a number of National ID Camps. Sarah, along with Alyssa Ferguson on the forward line, will create exciting scoring opportunities for the Panthers. The addition of goalie Jacklyn MacKinnon, a Charlottetown Rural grad, who has had two outstanding appearances at U-18 National tournaments provides the Panthers a strong tandem in goal.
The Panthers are pleased to have the opportunity to play, and will gain valuable experience playing OUA teams.
UPEI will return home from the U of T tournament to play in the Atlantic University Field Hockey League . Tournament one will be held Sept 19/20th at St F X followed by UPEI hosting tournament two Oct 3/4 and Championship weekend will be at Dal/SMU on Oct 17/18. The AUFH will consist of two tiers Tier A (SMU, UPEI, DAL), Tier B ( StFX, UNB, Acadia, and MTA).