Field hockey team back from strong finish in Argentina

The U of C women’s field hockey team returned earlier this month from competition in Argentina where they posted a winning record and showed off the strength they’ve developed from their struggle to keep the team alive.

It all began when they got word from athletic director Kevin Boyles that due to general university funding cuts in 2009 trickling down to athletics, men’s soccer and field hockey would no longer receive funding. That decision has since been partially attributed to the teams’ lack of wins in previous seasons.

“Traditionally we haven’t been the volleyball team or even the football team,” said Dinos goalkeeper Stephanie Petrowitsch, referring to those teams’ recent success. “I think that’s partially where it came from and the fact that we initially didn’t even receive that much funding.”

The team and Alumni Association, unwilling to see the team sink into non-existence, unleashed an ambitious campaign in the hopes of raising money required for the team to compete in Canadian Interuniversity Sport. “Saving the Species” was incredibly successful and the team bounced back.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Petrowitsch. “At the time we were upset and we were frustrated, but we all just came together and we have just pushed each other and ourselves because this is more than a game to us. It’s what we’ve worked so hard for, it’s what we give up our nights for.”

“Each of us worked eight concession shifts at the Saddledome,” she said, adding that the experience along with all the bottle drives, bake sales and 50/50 draws at Flames and Hitmen games actually ended up being “fun” and provided the opportunity for “lots of good team bonding.”

The experience has brought the team closer together and one thing is for sure: they want to play.

“We’ve seen a huge change in that. From being handed things to really working for absolutely everything. I think you see that off the field, but it even translates on the field,” said Petrowitsch. “Everyone’s desire to win and desire to do better is just that much greater because of the fact that we’ve worked so hard for everything even just to be there.”

Every couple of years the team makes a trip out of province or country to gain different experience, a useful trek given the relatively small scale of the sport in Canada. Using Dinos defensewoman Carolina Romeo’s connections in Buenos Aires, the team went all the way to Argentina to compete.

In 21 days the team played 13 games finishing a respectable 7-6. Petrowitsch said the performance was better than expected despite the strength of the teams in Argentina.

“They were extremely difficult, but they were also very different from the teams down here,” said Petrowitsch. “They’ll take you one-on-one and their forwards are nothing like we’ve ever seen here. They are so skilled and it’s just ingrained in them because they start when they’re four or five.”

The Dinos didn’t try to out match their opponents one-on-one, but instead turned to tactics which Petrowitsch attributed to her coach.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but we all worked extremely hard down there and learned tons that were really excited to bring into this season.”

The team will open their season at Hawkings Field this weekend in a pair of games against UBC on both Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.