By Ali Lee (UVic) with Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

November 5, 2015, VICTORIA (CIS) – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team had their home turf tip in their favour as they blasted the Toronto Varsity Blues 4-1 Thursday night in their opening game of the CIS-FHC championship hosted in Victoria. Three goals from fourth-year midfielder Kathleen Leahy was enough to seal the victory for the Canada West champions, while Toronto suffer just their second overall loss this season.

UVic’s Kathleen Leahy (right) would score three times to lead UVic to a 4-1 win over Toronto on Thursday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Leahy scored one goal in the first half and two in the second half, while team mate Lizzie Yates added to the four-goal start for the Vikes. Third-year keeper Larissa Piva had an outstanding performance to deny the Varsity Blues five quality opportunities and earn her first win of the 2015 championship.

U of T’s Tegan Stairs (right) charges upfield during Thursday’s action against UVic (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Toronto showed their offensive power as CIS and OUA Player of the Year Tegan Stairs’ six-foot-ten stature was hard to miss. The First Team All-Canadian was the generator of nearly every Varsity Blues attack, while 2014 CIS Player of the Year Amanda Woodcroft was just as potent in the middle of the pitch. First-year defender Hilary Ziraldo paired with fourth year Alison Lee to anchor the back line.

Kathleen Leahy (right) celebrates one of her three goals with teammate Alexis DeArmond (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The Vikes put on the pressure right from the opening whistle but Toronto did well to remain composed. Leahy earned Victoria’s first set-piece chance in the 11th minute as she found the foot of Tegan Stairs for the game’s first penalty corner. Leahy executed the shot but it took a deflection and went just over the net.

UVic’s Stephanie Langkammer (centre) battles a pair of Varsity Blues defenders for the ball in Thursday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Toronto generated several bursts of midfield attack but were unable to penetrate the Vikes’ circle. A nice passing play from back to front touched four Vikes sticks before Emily Bennett was able to generate another Victoria penalty corner in the 21st minute. A direct play allowed Leahy to deceptively sweep the ball into the bottom right corner past Toronto keeper Sara Fredo for the 1-0 lead.

UVic’s Lizzie Yates carries the ball upfield during Thursday’s game against the University of Toronto (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Off the push back Toronto found themselves in the Vikes’ circle second later and Piva was called to action on a close-range shot by Stairs. Toronto were rewarded for their ensuing pressure as they earned a penalty corner in the 23rd minute. Lee executed a drag flick from the top of the battery but it missed high and stick side of Piva.

Vikes forward Stefanie Langkammer earned another penalty corner chance in the 29th minute off the foot of Emma Wingrave but the home side squandered their opportunity and settled with the 1-0 lead at half.

U of T’s Tegan Stairs (right) tries to drive past the check of UVic’s Mei Lin Cheung (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

It was a four-goal second half as just three minutes in fifth year Alanna Macdonald made an interception at the 50-yard line in favour of the Vikes. The Coquitlam, B.C. native dished it off to a streaking Leahy up the left side and the recently named CIS Gail Wilson Award winner ran the ball nearly half the length of the pitch before turning and firing into the bottom right corner for a 2-0 Victoria lead.

U of T’s Hilary Ziraldo (left) stickhandles away from UVic’s Lizzie Yates (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Not to be discouraged Toronto were right back the other way as Stairs fired a hard ball from outside the circle to a waiting Amanda Woodcroft, who had a timely deflection through her legs on goal. In some unbelievable fashion Piva made the save from close range to deny the Varsity Blues.

Moments later Toronto were back at it as Vikes keeper Piva had to make back-to-back saves on quality chances from Ally Evanyshyn and Amanda Woodcroft.

U of T’s Hilary Ziraldo (right) is pressured by UVic’s Emily Bennett (left) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Important saves kept momentum for Toronto at bay and against the flow the Vikes were able to advance 3-0. A cross-field pass to the right side found the stick of Yates, who despite looking for a pass, was able to send an off-paced shot on the reverse towards goal. The ball bounced past Fredo to extend Victoria’s lead.

UVic’s Amanda Kurianowicz (left) flips the ball past a Blue’s defender  (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

With under four minutes to go the Varsity Blues continued to push hard, earning a penalty corner through Stairs. Lee distributed from the top of the battery to Nicole Woodcroft at the stroke and her shot deflected through traffic to break Piva’s shutout in the 68th minute.

Second-year Vike Lindsay Cole helped sweeten the home team’s win by earning a penalty corner in the final minute of play. Leahy notched her third on another direct shot to give the Vikes a win and final score of 4-1.

UVic’s Amanda Kurianowicz (left) navigates her way through a tough U of T defence  (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Following the game Leahy was named the Victoria’s Player of the Game, while OUA Rookie of the Year Hilary Ziraldo took the honours for Toronto after a steady defensive performance.

Both teams face their conference rivals tomorrow, Nov. 6, as UBC plays Victoria at 4:00 p.m. and Guelph takes on Toronto at 6:30 p.m.

Official championship website: 

UVIC: 1-3: 4
TOR: 0-1: 1

First half
UVIC Kathleen Leahy (1), 21st minute

Second half
UVIC Kathleen Leahy (2), 39th minute
UVIC Lizzie Yates (1), 57th minute
TOR Nicole Woodcroft, 68th minute
UVIC Kathleen Leahy (3), 70th minute

UVIC: Larissa Piva (W, 70:00, 1 GA, 1-0)
TOR: Sara Fredo (L, 70:00, 4 GA, 0-1)

Players of the game
UVIC: Kathleen Leahy (Victoria, B.C.)
TOR: Hilary Ziraldo (Toronto, Ont.)
1. Victoria (Canada West champions: 7-0-1 regular season / no playoffs in CW)
2. Toronto (OUA champions: 11-1-0 regular season / 2-0 conference playoffs)
3. UBC (Canada West runners-up: 4-3-1 regular season / no playoffs in CW)
4. Guelph (OUA silver medallists: 11-1-0 regular season / 1-1 conference playoffs)

STANDINGS, SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times Pacific Time)

Round-robin standings

1. Victoria 1 1 0 0 4 1 3
2. Guelph 1 0 0 0 2 1 3
3. Toronto 1 0 1 0 1 4 0
4. UBC 1 0 1 0 1 2 0

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

Thursday, Nov. 5
16:00 Game 1: Guelph 2, UBC 1
18:30 Game 2: Victoria 4, Toronto 1

Friday, Nov. 6
16:00 Game 3: UBC vs. Victoria (
18:30 Game 4: Guelph vs. Toronto (

Saturday, Nov. 7
12:30 Game 5: Guelph vs. Victoria (
15:00 Game 6: UBC vs. Toronto (

Sunday, Nov. 8
12:30 Bronze medal (
15:00 Championship final (

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Every year, over 11,500 student-athletes and 700 coaches from 56 universities and four regional associations vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit or follow us on: