After weeks of practice, it’s game time for the UPEI Panthers women’s field hockey team.
The Panthers will host a six-team Atlantic university field hockey tournament this weekend beginning today at noon.
“It’s been a long three weeks of just practicing,” said coach Charla Currie. “We’re ready to play and show everybody what we can do and finally get some games under our belt.”
The team is relative young with many first- and second-year players.
Early on the team’s strength appears to be its depth and experience through the middle of the field with fourth-year players Eliza MacLauchlan and Stephanie MacKinnon. One will anchor the back end with the other patrolling the front of the forward line.
Sydney Stavert is playing centre mid and Katherine Koughan sweeper.
Stavert has made a seamless transition from the high school ranks to university. She has lots of experience having played the past two summers with the provincial team that competed at the under-18 nationals.
“Stavert has stepped up well as a first year,” Currie said. “She’s got great stick skills and really sees the play well.”
Currie, an assistant for four years with the Panthers, has taken over the head coaching position from Sheila Bell, who has taken a year leave of absence after sustaining a workplace concussion a year ago.
The team won a Maritime championship and had three second-place finishes in Bell’s four years at the helm. Lacy MacLauchlan joined the staff as an assistant coach while Barb Carmichael remains the general manager.
This season is the first in about five years where UPEI will not be hosting the final tournament of the season. Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s, which traditionally have strong programs, are co-hosting the playoffs this fall.
“It’s just a different feel coming in with the first tournament right here at home,” Currie said. “We’re looking forward to (this weekend). I think it’s important to set the tone for the rest of the season.”
The team is hoping for a large crowd to kick start the season.
The sport is popular with those involved, but the Panthers would like to see others in the community come out and take a look.
“They would be pleasantly surprised what an exciting game it is,” Currie said.
The next tournament is Oct. 5 and 6 at UNB.
Following is the weekend schedule for the Atlantic university field hockey tournament at UPEI.
Noon – UPEI vs. St. F.X.
1 p.m. – SMU vs. UNB
2 pm – Dalhousie vs. Acadia
3 pm – UPEI vs. UNB
4 pm – SMU vs. Acadia
5 p.m. – Dalhousie vs. St. F.X.
6 p.m. – Acadia vs. UPEI
7 p.m. – St. F.X. vs. SMU
8 p.m. – UNB vs. Dalhousie
9 a.m. – St. F.X. vs. Acadia
10 a.m. – SMU vs. UPEI
11 a.m. – UNB vs. St. F.X.
Noon – Dalhousie vs. SMU
1 p.m. – Acadia vs. UNB
2 p.m. – UPEI vs. Dalhousie
The Panthers (1-1) host perennial favourites, the St. F.X. X-Women (2-1), today at 3 p.m.
The Panthers women’s team host the University of Ontario Institute of Technology at 2:30 p.m.
Both Panthers teams are off this weekend.