November 1, 2012, TORONTO (CIS) – Miranda Mann of Duncan, B.C., scored in the final minute of regulation as the top-seeded UBC Thunderbirds came from behind to open the defence of their national title with a 1-1 draw against the No. 2-ranked and tournament host Toronto Varsity Blues in the first game of the FHC – CIS women’s field hockey championship, Thursday morning at Varsity Centre.
The Thunderbirds had numerous penalty corners in the last 14 minutes of the match, and finally capitalized on the last play of the game when Mann, a fourth-year defender, sent a booming shot past U of T netminder Katherine Williams of Burlington, Ont.
Forward Emma Stairs of Kitchener, Ont., had given Toronto a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute when she took a pass from her sister Tegan, a CIS all-Canadian, and rifled a shot past goalie Bea Francisco of Richmond, B.C.
“One point is better than none,” said UBC head coach Hash Kanjee, who a year ago guided the T-Birds to their 13th McCrae Cup triumph, an all-time record. “I’m really glad we capitalized after having so many chances. I thought Toronto came alive in the second half so we’ll have to make sure we’re ready for that if we meet them again.”
The Thunderbirds came out and dominated the first 20 minutes of action, with the majority of the play stuck in U of T’s end.
The first scoring chance of the game came in the 20th minute when all-Canadian Natalie Sourisseau of Kelowna, B.C., came streaking into the circle and drew a penalty corner opportunity. Toronto denied two short corners and used that momentum to pick up their play.
Despite a few opportunities for both teams, the game remained scoreless at the half.
“I thought we created some really good chances in the first half but we didn’t capitalize on them and that cost us,” added Kanjee.
U of T leading scorer Ally Evanyshyn had a great chance to open the scoring in the 42nd minute when she found herself all alone in the circle, but was denied by Francisco. Two minutes later, Poonan Sandhu of Vancouver had a great opportunity for the T-Birds but sent a shot just wide of Williams’ net.
Varsity Blues head coach John DeSouza was impressed with his team’s play and the leadership that Tegan Stairs showed.
“The whole team played really well but Tegan is a game-breaker. She’s exciting to watch and she’s going to cause other teams a lot of problems. We played great team defence which we haven’t had all season long.”
Next up for Toronto (0-0-1) is a match versus the fifth-seeded Western Mustangs (0-0) today at 3:30 p.m. UBC (0-0-1) is set for a tilt with the No. 4 Victoria Vikes (0-0) at 5:50 p.m.
GAME NOTES: UBC and Toronto both entered the CIS tournament with unblemished records… The T-Birds went 8-0 this season en route to the Canada West banner (there are no playoffs in CW), while the Varsity Blues kept a 12-0 mark in the regular season before adding two playoff wins to capture the OUA title.
UBC 0-1: 1
TOR: 0-1: 1
TOR Emma Stairs (1), 56th minute
UBC Miranda Mann (1), 70th
UBC: Bea Francisco (T, 70:00, 1 GA, 0-0-1)
TOR: Katherine Williams (T, 70:00, 1 GA, 0-0-1)
Players of the game
TOR: Amanda Woodcroft (Waterloo, Ont.)
UBC: Sara McManus (Delta, B.C.)