York University Lions field hockey head coach Zeeshan Minhas announced on July 6 that eight new student-athletes from across the country will join the team for 2018 season.
The freshman class of 2018 includes defenders Sarah Powell, Claire Heisler, Harsimran Dogra, and Hannah Phelan, forwards Nicole Rodrigues and Chloe Walton, and midfielders Claire Church and Prava Sandhu.
Powell, from Midland, Ont., comes to York with experience playing at the national and international level. She began playing with the Dolphins Field Hockey Club based out of Aurora and Scarborough in 2010, moving up to compete at the Ontario Winter Games in 2011 and the Ontario Summer Games in 2014. Her first taste of national competition came in 2015 when she made the 16-under roster for Team Ontario White. She has played at the national championships every year since 2015 and has attended four national talent identification camps. She made her international debut in 2017 as part of Canada’s entry in the Indoor Pan Am Cup held in Georgetown, Guyana and helped her team to a fourth-place finish.
Heisler is from Port Moody, B.C., and has been playing competitive field hockey for five years. A well-rounded athlete who also starred on her high school basketball team, Heisler played above her age group as a 16-year-old and helped her 18-under club team India FH win first place in their league. She was named captain of her high school team at Heritage Woods Secondary School in both Grade 11 and 12 and helped lead the team to a provincial championships berth in 2017.
Dogra, who hails from Edmonton, is an experienced defender who started playing field hockey seven years ago. She currently plays on the Edmonton Juniors club team and played provincially with Team Alberta for four years from 2013-17. Dogra will bring some leadership skills to the Lions this season as she was named captain of Team Alberta for two years and in 2016 played in both the 16-under and 18-under national championships. She also red-shirted in 2016 with Canada’s 18-under indoor women’s team for a series against Team USA.
Phelan, from Kelowna, B.C., has been playing field hockey for six years. She attended Kelowna Secondary School and helped the team win the silver medal at the B.C. school sports senior AAA field hockey championships in both 2016 and 2017. Phelan was named as the team’s most valuable player for the 2016 tournament. She has also played at Field Hockey B.C.’s Inter Regional tournament for the last two years.
Mississauga, Ont., native Rodrigues comes to York after a successful high school career and with elite-level experience. Rodrigues first started playing field hockey as a freshman at Applewood Heights Secondary School and was named team captain and team MVP in her last two years. She joined her local club team the GoA Reds in grade ten and began attending high level showcase tournaments. She began playing at the provincial level with Team Ontario in 2016 and was invited to attend a national talent identification camp in 2017.
Walton, of North Vancouver, B.C., joins the Lions after years of experience playing in B.C.’s regional and provincial programs. In 2016, Walton helped the B.C. White team capture the bronze medal at the 18-under national championships. Her performance at the tournament included scoring a key goal to give the team a 1-0 lead in their quarter-final matchup. Walton has also attended three national talent identification camps during her career.
Midfielders Church and Sandhu are both British Columbia natives and cap off the five new players from the province joining the Lions roster for 2018. The most experienced member of the 2018 recruiting class is Victoria’s Church, who has been playing field hockey for 13 years. She is currently playing for two club teams, the Kirby Island Wildcats and the Lynx 1 of the Vancouver Island Ladies Field Hockey Association. Church has also played with Team B.C. at the provincial level for the last four years and has attended three national development camps.
Sandhu, of Vancouver, B.C., comes from a long line of field hockey players in her family. She started playing field hockey at the age of six and is a longtime member of the India Field Hockey Club. Sandhu was an honour roll student at John Oliver Secondary School and has played at the regional level for five years and with her clubs women’s premier league team for three years.
The Lions will begin defending their Ontario University Athletics (OUA) title on Sunday, Sept. 16 when they take on the Guelph Gryphons on home turf.