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Handsworth girls win field hockey and cross-country provincial titles

November 21, 2022


The Handsworth Secondary senior girls field hockey team celebrates a provincial championship win following a thrilling shootout victory over Oak bay in the B.C. final played Nov. 11 in Surrey. | Handsworth Secondary

By Andy Prest, North Shore News.

There’s something about those Handsworth girls.

Senior girls from the North Vancouver secondary school scored two huge results over the past two weeks, winning both the field hockey and cross-country running provincial titles.

The Royals placed four senior girls – Kate Martin, Juliet Pulfrey, Brooke Hemstead and Leila Nabavi – in the top 20 of runners in the team competition. Handsworth’s total team score of 52 – combining the ranks of the top four runners – earned them top spot, followed by West Point Grey Academy with 69 points and Killarney Secondary with 74 points.

In the individual competition, Ecole Sentinel Secondary’s Sidney Clement hit the podium, finishing third overall in the five-kilometre senior girls race.

Handsworth also showed well in the junior races, earning bronze in both the junior boys and girls team competitions. Casey Hemsted, Andy Inkster, Pascal Remillard and Quinn Tveit-Borgenstrom registered the top-four times for the Handsworth junior boys, while Maggie Cormack, Elia Comeau, Rachel Rhodes and Julia Runzer put up the top times for the Handsworth junior girls.

Less than one week later the Royals celebrated another provincial title, with the Handsworth senior girls knocking off Oak Bay in a thrilling AAA field hockey championship final.

It was a sweet victory for the Royals as the same two teams battled in the 2021 provincial final, with Oak Bay winning the title in a shootout. In this year’s final, played Nov. 11 at Tamawanis Park in Surrey, the Royals were looking for revenge, and knew it would be another tight game.

Coming into this season, Handsworth suspected that this year’s final might follow a similar script, and so they were prepared, said head coach Sandy Garnham.

“Because of last year we practiced shootouts almost every session, so we were as ready as we were going to be.”

That practice, it turned out, was essential. Handsworth and Oak Bay battled to a 0-0 draw in this year’s final, and so, for the second year in a row, the game went to a shootout. Five shooters for each team took their shots, and it was still tied. Next up: sudden death.

Finally Solana Cooper scored for Handsworth, and then goalkeeper Mairen Madill made a save and the match was over, the championship was theirs.

“It was just pure excitement,” said Garnham about the moment the team locked up the title. “Excitement for the kids, to see all their hard work pay off – it gets me teary just thinking about it. They did awesome.”

In addition to shootout hero Madill, Handsworth was also led by Sydney Le, who became known as the "hat trick kid" because she scored so many of them throughout the season. Madill, Cooper, Molly Garnham and Kaitlyn Pennefather were the team's captains. 

The championship moment was a special for the team, particularly given that their high school careers were interrupted by the pandemic.

“Some of these kids didn’t know each other at all at the beginning of the season because they never had a chance to play together due to COVID, and so to see them walk away [as champions] and to see the support they gave each other was absolutely amazing,” said Garnham.

It was also the end of a very special week for two Handsworth players, Kate Martin and Cordelia Hultman, who won provincial titles with both the cross-country and field hockey teams.

“I said to one of them, ‘you’re not going to have too many weeks in your life like this,’” Garnham said with a laugh. “It’s pretty amazing.”