The name plates on the historic Bridgman Cup trophy say it all, that Oak Bay High hasn’t won the prestigious field hockey tournament since 1973.
The annual Bridgman Cup at UVic is an indicator for the upcoming South Island finals, Island finals and provincials.
Oak Bay ended that drought on Sunday with a 3-2 defeat of Handsworth in a penalty shootout to break the game’s 1-1 tie. It’s part of a meteoric rise that’s seen Oak Bay go from last (16th) in the 2016 Bridgman Cup to first place this year.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said coach Kira Starr, who has been with the team since she graduated from the UVic Vikes four years ago. “I’ve been with these girls for quite some time so this is a very special team and moment for me. We are super proud of the girls. They’re a relentless and determined group.”
Huge congrats to our field hockey team for their Bridgman Cup win!! Not only is this the first Bridgman Cup win for Oak Bay High in 46 years, this team has come a long way in the last 4 years. Thanks to OB fans & alumni for coming out to support. Photo cred: Nora Struchtrup pic.twitter.com/iqmupZpF2W
— OB News Hub (@OBpulse) October 15, 2019
To be clear the Bridgman Cup, which started in in 1937, was on hiatus from 1975 to 1991. That’s still a drought of 30 seasons, which is made more pronounced considering the national team and university level talent Oak Bay High has produced. Grads Kathleen Leahy and Maddie Secco are veterans on the UVic-based national team while recent grads Cara Butler, Emily Jackson, Sophia Berk and Judy Cristante are all current Vikes.
Next for Oak Bay is the May Tully Shield crossover, Oct. 28 and 29 at UVic, where AAA school teams face AA school teams for South Island supremacy. Oak Bay is the AAA favourite at 5-0 in league play while St. Michaels University School is 4-0 in AA league.
Oak Bay is aiming to win the AAA Islands, hosted Nov. 1 to 2 by Cowichan High, followed by a strong result at provincials, Nov. 12 to 15 in North Vancouver.
Sunday’s win was a big step in Oak Bay’s progression from finishing last in 2016, tying for last in 2017, then moving up to seventh last year, which was surprisingly the team’s best finish since the year 2000, Starr said.
“Oak Bay has always had strong players, but this year we have strong players, but also it’s the whole team playing well,” Starr said.
The Bridgman Cup final was actually a rematch of Oak Bay’s 2-1 loss in the round robin to Handsworth. However, Oak Bay had advanced to the crossover quarterfinal on round robin wins of 4-1 over Argyle and 6-0 against Lambrick. In the plyaoffs Oak Bay defeated Little Flower Academy 2-0 on goals by Bronte Thurbide and Nora Struchup, and Kelowna 5-0 (with five different goal scorers) to advance to the final.
Handsworth was actually up 1-0 in the final with about 10 minutes left when Mia Kelly Ralph made a baseline run and a cross pass in front of the goal area where Ines Cicceteri-Teng “tapped it in” for the tying goal, Starr said.
The game went to a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
Thurbide, Struchtrup and Julia Berk scored penalty shots for Oak Bay as Grade 9 goalie Anai Chase kept Handsworth to two penalty goals for the win.
Oak Bay finished the Bridgman Cup with 22 goals for and three against (during regulation play).
“We have high expectations for provincials, nothing that the girls can’t handle,” Starr said.
Nora Struchup finished the tournament with six goals, Julia Berk had three, and Bronte Thurbide, Libby Hogg and Ines Cicceteri-Teng each had two. Starr co-coaches with Milena Gaiga.