Field hockey team loses two games, but not spirit

Tough Thunderbird team leaves Dinos squad scoreless in British Columbia

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In native mythology, thunderbirds are considered supernatural animals of power and strength.

Unfortunately, the University of Calgary Dinos field hockey team have 10 reasons to believe that to be true, after the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds outscored the Dinos 10-0 in two games in stormy weather in B.C. Despite the disappointment, Dinos coach Jenn Swagar remains positive about the team's potential, pointing out how they are learning from their mistakes.

Eight of those reasons came on Saturday, courtesy of UBC's strong offence. The T-Birds started the scoring in the 10th minute of the first period on a broken penalty corner.

Despite early possession of the ball and the Dinos constant pressure on the UBC defence, the Thunderbirds managed to weather the storm and settled down to play a more controlled game.

The Dinos' problems last Saturday disappointed Swagar.

"I think the Dinos did not perform or execute well on Saturday and a veteran UBC team did," she said. "They had 35 offensive penetrations, meaning they had more opportunities to score and we held them to eight. Our defence was weak, the umpiring was weak and that really hurt us mentally."

The Dinos recovered on Sunday and learned from their early errors as they forced UBC to go into defensive mode through the entire game and matched UBC's shooting opportunities. The Thunderbirds only scored two goals on Sunday-- due to a penalty corner shot and a goal that came during the final play of the game. Swagar credits the low score to a risky zone defence tactic the inexperienced Dinos team attempted.

"A zone defence is a challenge for a young team that really has no knowledge of the game," Swagar explained. "We have improved our stats at least by 50 or 60 per cent, but they still need to improve and that will come with time and some more experience."

UBC coach Hash Kanjee remains modest about his team's victory, pointing out how the Dinos fought constantly through the match and forced them to play defence for a long time.

"The final score was not indicative of the overall play, since the Dinos played very well throughout the match and never gave in, which is a good indication of the team's character," says Kanjee. "This was a very good performance by the Calgary team, one which coach Swagar can build on."

Even though the Dinos were winless in Vancouver, Swagar said the team was able to enjoy themselves on the road trip. She said the players enjoyed the opportunitys to visit their friends and families. They also took the opportunity to watch the Dinos soccer team play for a bit and learned from their defeats.

"They learned that good players are going to capitalize on their mistakes and that this team cannot be individual players playing field hockey," says Swagar. "They all have to be together in order to perform well and be successful. That's a lot to learn for a young team."

With their victory over the Dinos, the Thunderbirds are the only remaining unbeaten team in Canada West, with the University of Victoria Vikes giving the University of Alberta Pandas their first defeat. Despite the two losses, the Dinos are looking forward to playing against their rival, the Pandas, in Edmonton this weekend.

"We always look forward to playing the Pandas," said Swagar. "The girls have a lot of ties with other players on the Alberta team. I think they'll be surprised by us and we will be prepared for them."