Lady Cougars advance to quarterfinals

The Carillon goes inside the huddle./Arthur Ward

The Carillon goes inside the huddle./Arthur Ward

Riding a wave of momentum, how far will our girls go?

On a weekend when the Cougars women’s hockey team was forced to drop out of the playoff race, another one of the university’s teams survived. With the Cougars’ sweep of the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, they are off to the Canada West Quarterfinals this Friday against UBC in Vancouver.

In Friday’s action, the team was able to secure a decisive 74-56 victory on the road in Abbotsford. Fourth-year Kehlsie Crone, who has averaged (including the team’s two post-season games) 10.1 points per contest since the team’s Canada West schedule began at the end of October, poured in 15, as well as leading the team in assists with eight, all in just 24 minutes of action. Fellow guard, Katie Polischuk, was also able to contribute 15 to the cause, and post player Alyssia Kajati led the squad in rebounds with 10. In fact, the Cougs held a distinct advantage in the rebounding column, out hustling their opponents by a 49-34 margin. To go along with the disparity in the rebounding department, the Cougars were able to shoot 44 per cent, while their opponents could only muster a success rate around 29 per cent. Ahead 21-13 at the conclusion of the first quarter, the team outscored their opposition in the next two quarters before squaring the score at 14 during the last section of the game when the outcome had already been decided.

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In Saturday’s rematch, with the U of R’s squad seeking to get out their brooms for the sweep, and the Cascades looking to extend the series, the same result came to pass: a victory for the Cougars and with it, a Canada West play-in series win. With their 15-point triumph, the team secured a spot in the Canada West Quarterfinals against the UBC Thunderbirds, and Polischuk was a big reason why. With 17 points and 12 rebounds, she was able to acquire her second double-double since the Canada West schedule began. The girls outscored the Cascades by seven in the fourth quarter to squash any chance of a comeback.

Now comes a much larger challenge against UBC, a team who, in their latest games against the Cougars on Feb. 6 and 7, won by over 20 points per game. Being the road team heightens the degree of difficulty for this team and will make their passage to the Canada West Final Four a tough one. The good news is that throughout the season, the Cougars have defeated some very difficult competition in resounding fashion, most notably the University of Alberta Pandas, currently the fifth-highest ranked squad in the CIS, during the second last weekend in January at the Centre for Kinesiology Health and Sport.

Will the Cougars continue towards the CIS Championships, or will the higher seeded Thunderbirds move on? We will begin to find out come Friday and will know whether to celebrate or commiserate by Sunday afternoon, at the latest.

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