Vikes knock off defending national champs UBC in home opener


By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications


VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team started their season off on the right foot after dropping the four-time defending national champions, the UBC Thunderbirds, 3-0 on home field Sept. 19. Three goals from three Victoria veterans lifted the Vikes to their first win of the season and ultimately a 1-0 record to start 2015. The young T-Birds fall to 0-1, while both teams will rematch again tomorrow, Sept. 20.

The Vikes got on the board in the first half from fourth-year midfielder Andrea Jones in the 24th minute, while Lizzie Yates and Amanda Kurianowicz netted in the second half. Victoria keeper Larissa Piva was credited the shutout in a game that saw UBC generate just one shot on goal.

The young UBC side, currently without stand-out midfielder and national team member Hannah Haughn, improved over the 70 minutes of play. Third-year T-Birds Sarah Keglowitsch and Sophie Jones held most of the leadership weight on their shoulders, while keeper Rowan Harris faced 17 shots and made eight saves.

“Absolutely incredible,” was all that goal scorer Yates could say about scoring in the team’s opening match. “That was the dream finish for our first game. Three veterans on the board and three goals against UBC was the best kind of win you could have.”

The Vikes got off to a strong opening half putting seven shots towards goal and earning four penalty corners to UBC’s one shot and no corners. The Vikes were unable to capitalize on their opening three corner chances, looking to Rosie Beale and Kathleen Leahy at the top of the circle. On their fourth corner the Vikes worked a long set piece with Beale passing left to Leahy who then passed it wide to the right side to an open Alexis De Armond. The rookie let go a lifted shot but it was saved well by UBC keeper Harris. Kurianowicz fired a quick rebound shot, again saved by Harris, but the ball popped lose for Jones at the far post. The fourth year roofed the ball into the mesh to lift the Vikes 1-0 in the 24th minute.

The Vikes maintained control, preventing UBC from breaking into their 25-yard-area, while a UBC offensive break forced a diving tackle attempt from Vikes defender Alanna Macdonald. The fifth year was carded on the play leaving UBC up a man for five minutes. Third-year T-bird Keglowitsch pounced on the odd-man opportunity and danced her way through three Vikes defenders before blasting a back-hand shot in the 33rd minute. Vikes keeper Piva’s out-stretched toe redirected the ball wide to keep the Thunderbirds off the board.

With under a minute left to go in the opening half rookie De Armond gave the Vikes their only other strong opportunity. The Victoria native drove the left side of the pitch and perfectly executed a back-hand cross that cut through the UBC defence and circle. Vikes forwardDelaney Booker was the target but her deflection was saved by Harris to keep the score 1-0 for the home side entering half time.

“I think you could see it particularly in the first and last 20 minutes – us passing around everyone,” described Yates of today’s team dynamics which include nine players in their third year or higher. “We were connected. We found each other and we made those simple passes and it was really obvious we had all played together for a while now and knew each other’s movements.

The second half continued in favour of the Vikes, as the team potted two goals in six minutes, first from a solo effort by Yates. The third-year Vike made a good tackle inside Victoria’s defensive half before purely out-running the entire UBC midfield and defence for nearly 50 yards. Yates walked it in to the UBC circle with no pressure and blasted a back-hand shot into the bottom right corner, lifting the Vikes up 2-0.

In the 61st minute, the Vikes got on the board after a goal-mouth scramble allowed the gritty Kurianowicz to beat Harris for a 3-0 Victoria lead. UBC struggled to get out of their end despite strong defensive efforts from rookie Sarah Lowes and third year Jones.

“I was really impressed with our girls,” said UBC Thunderbirds head coach Robin D’Abreo who is in his second season . “Without a lot of experience around them I think they did well to stick to the game plan and stick to the process. The experience is new for a lot of them and it’s the first game with an excellent opposition and a lot of nerves.”

The Vikes did well to keep UBC in their end and grab the 3-0 victory and their first points of the 2015-16 season, while UBC will have another chance tomorrow. The perennial field hockey powers will clash again, Sept. 20 at 11 a.m., at UVic’s field hockey pitch for the second game of this weekend’s double header.

UBC: 0 – 0 : 0
UVIC: 1 – 2 : 3

UBC: None
UVIC: Andrea Jones (24′), Lizzie Yates (56′), Amanda Kurianowicz (61′)

UBC: Sophie Jones (66′)
UVIC: Alanna Macdonald (YC -29′), Lizzie Yates (GC – 35′), Amanda Kurianowicz (GC – 52′)