T-Birds soar past Guelph in CIS championship tune-up

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Michel Belanger

CALGARY (CIS) – With their spot in Sunday’s title game already locked up, the second-seeded UBC Thunderbirds capped off an unbeaten preliminary round at the FHC-CIS women’s field hockey championship with a 2-0 win over the No. 4 seed Guelph Gryphons on Saturday at Hawkings Field.

Canada West rookie of the year Sarah Keglowitsch netted the game winner early in the second half, weaving her way past defenders into the circle and drawing Gryphons goalkeeper Kaye McLagan out of her net before slotting the ball home.

Natalie Sourisseau gave the T-Birds an insurance goal just two minutes later, banging home the rebound of a Robyn Pendleton shot from in close.

The win sees UBC finish round-robin play with a 4-0 mark, and they will square off against the tournament host Calgary Dinos (3-1) for the national championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. Mountain.

“Calgary has a lot of seniors, and those guys are going to throw everything and the kitchen sink at us tomorrow,” said UBC head coach Hash Kanjee. “We’ve got to be ready for it and on our best behaviour, and we just have to rise to the occasion and do the work necessary. It’s going to be a lot of hard work.”

The T-Birds put plenty of pressure on the Gryphons in the first half, generating five shots and three penalty corners, but were unable to find a goal.

Guelph almost stole one going the other way too thanks to some missed marking assignments, but the T-Bird defence recovered and shut down the Gryphons’ attack the rest of the way.

“I think we are ready for tomorrow, but it didn’t really show in the first 20 minutes,” said Kanjee. “We gave up the ball more than we needed to, and were a little bit lackadaisical, and Guelph almost got a nice goal because of it. But our defence played great today. Jenna McNeil, Miranda Mann and Caitlin Evans were all solid and made a big difference in the outcome today.”

Bea Francisco earned her second shutout of the tournament for the ‘Birds. Keglowitsch’s goal was her second of the competition, and it was the first for Sourisseau.

The T-Birds have outscored opponents 10-3 en route to their perfect tournament record.

The Gryphons fall to 1-3, but will still play for bronze against either Toronto or Alberta. Those two sides clash later on Saturday in the round-robin finale, with Alberta (0-3) in a must-win situation against the defending champion Varsity Blues (1-2). The Pandas need to win by at least two goals to earn a spot in the third-place match on the goal differential tiebreaker.

The bronze medal game is slated for 10 a.m. on Sunday at Hawkings Field.

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