T-Birds upset defending champs in opener

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Michel Belanger 

CALGARY (CIS) – The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds kicked off the 2011 FHC-CIS field hockey championship with a 2-1 win over the top-seeded and defending champion Toronto Varsity Blues on Thursday morning at the University of Calgary’s Hawkings Field.

The No. 2-seeded Thunderbirds got on the board in the 22nd minute when Cassie Tayler got a stick on a long cross into the circle by Natalie Sourisseau, tipping the ball in from short range, giving Toronto goalkeeper Kathryn Williams no chance to react.

The ‘Birds looked fully in control of the match, generating scoring chances consistently throughout the contest, but only managed one more goal from Canada West rookie of the year Sarah Keglowitsch early in the second half, in the 41st minute.

Her low shot from the middle of the circle held up as the game winner, and turned out to be the only difference between the sides on the scoreboard, despite UBC’s significant advantage in offensive pressure.

“There were some good things from us today but I’d hoped that we could have taken some more of our other chances too. But we’re okay with that. The win is good to start with,” said UBC head coach Hash Kanjee, adding that he was very pleased with his side’s tight defensive performance.

The top-seeded Blues mounted a surge late. Toronto cut the lead in half seemingly out of nowhere. Alexandra Thicke banged the ball home with six minutes remaining after a scramble suddenly erupted around the UBC goal, but the ‘Birds were able to hang on the rest of the way and secure the win.

“I was quite happy with the way the girls play today,” said CIS coach of the year John DeSouza of the Varsity Blues. “They (UBC) have a lot of international experience on their team and they played to their strength, but our girls competed extremely well. I’m quite confident that as the games go on and we get more used to this fast turf, we’re going to get better.”

UBC forced six saves out of Williams in the match, compared to just one for T-Bird goalkeeper Bea Francisco. The ‘Birds also had six penalty corner opportunities while the Varsity Blues had none.

Both sides return to round-robin action later today, with the T-Birds squaring off against Canada West rivals Alberta at 3:30 p.m. Mountain, followed by Toronto against Guelph at 5:50.

The preliminary round continues through Saturday, with the bronze medal match scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday, and the gold medal match at 1 p.m.

GAME NOTES: The game was a rematch of last year’s national final when Toronto prevailed 2-1 to capture the 11th McCrae Cup in school history, which tied the Blues with Victoria for second place all-time, one title behind UBC… Coming into this week’s CIS championship, Toronto had only allowed four goals in 14 OUA regular season and playoff contests…

SCORING SUMMARY

UBC 1-1: 2

TOR 0-1: 1

First half

UBC Cassandra Tayler (1), 22nd

Second half

UBC Sarah Keglowisch (1), 41st

TOR Alexandra Thicke (1), 63rd

Goaltenders

UBC: Bea Francisco (W, 70:00, 1 GA, 1-0)

TOR: Kathryn Williams (L, 70:00, 2 GA, 0-1)

Players of the game

UBC: –

TOR: –

Official championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/fh/index

PRE-CHAMPIONSHIP SEEDING

1. Toronto (OUA champions)

2. UBC (Canada West champions)

3. Calgary (Canada West second place)

4. Guelph (OUA finalists)

5. Alberta (Canada West third place)

STANDINGS, SCHEDULE & RESULTS (All times local: Mountain Time)

Round-robin standings (after 1 of 10 games)

GP W L T GF GA PTS

1. UBC 1 1 0 0 2 1 3

2. Calgary 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

3. Guelph 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

4. Alberta 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

5. Toronto 1 0 1 0 1 2 0

NOTE: 3 points for a win and 1 point for a tie.

Thursday, Nov. 3

9:30 Round-Robin Game 1: UBC 2 Toronto 1

11:50 Round-Robin Game 2: Calgary vs. Guelph

15:30 Round-Robin Game 3: UBC vs. Alberta

17:50 Round-Robin Game 4: Toronto vs. Guelph

Friday, Nov. 4

10:00 Round-Robin Game 5: Calgary vs. UBC

12:20 Round-Robin Game 6: Guelph vs. Alberta

16:00 Round-Robin Game 7: Toronto vs. Calgary

Saturday, Nov. 5

10:00 Round-Robin Game 8: Calgary vs. Alberta

12:20 Round-Robin Game 9: UBC vs. Guelph

16:00 Round-Robin Game 10: Toronto vs. Alberta

17:30 Tie-Breaking Strokes (if necessary)

Sunday, Nov. 6

10:00 Bronze medal

13:00 Championship final

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