VICTORIA (CIS) – The University of Toronto Varsity Blues defeated OUA rivals the Guelph Gryphons, 2-1, in the fourth round-robin game of the CIS-FHC championship, Friday night. Veterans Tegan Stairs and Alison Lee each scored for the OUA champions, as the standings are now all tied up between the four teams, each with a 1-1 record.
Stairs buried a penalty corner goal in the 17th minute, while Lee shelved a penalty stroke in the 42nd minute to secure the victory. First-year keeper Sara Fredo redeemed herself after yesterday’s four-goal allowance to come back to be the most critical factor in securing Toronto’s win. Fredo made eight saves in the win and was named Player of the Game for her efforts.
“Everyone’s sitting on three points now and it’s a brand new start for all the teams,” said Toronto head coach John De Souza after the win. “The veterans are holding our kids together but we are a veteran-laden team so we need to rely on them. We have five identified national team kids and I think they are playing to the standard right now. They are giving me everything I expected and our kids are just holding their own.”
Guelph’s lone goal came from 2015 CIS All-Canadian Allison Chute in the 32nd minute. The Gryphons struggled to beat Fredo despite some crafty offensive execution from midfielders Moon Weijens and Erin Houle, the latter of the two named Player of the Game for Guelph. Third-year net minder Morgan Kelley made four saves in the game despite the loss.
The match was pretty level in the opening 35 minutes of play with both teams struggling to maintain possession upon circle entry. Toronto’s first chance came in the 17th minute when Stairs intercepted a back pass from Houle. The ensuing play led to rookie Sarah Pendreigh drawing the first penalty corner of the game in favour of Toronto. At the top of the battery Lee dished it back to Stairs, who injected the ball, and the 2015 CIS Player of the Year showed great composure to receive and fire it short side on Kelley for a 1-0 Varsity Blues lead.
Guelph did well to earn back-to-back penalty corners less than a minute from going down a goal but Fredo stood tall between the pipes for Toronto to protect her team’s lead. Play continued mostly in midfield with the Gryphons getting two more set-piece opportunities with under 10 minutes to go in the half.
The Gryphons continued to attack forcing a sliding Fredo off her line to deny a right-side baseline attack in the 30th minute. Moments later the Gryphons finally found the back of the net in free play as a quick sideline free hit from Jessica Donaldson beamed by the unprepared Toronto defence line. Just as quick as the hit was taken Chute was able to get a stick on it redirect the ball short side to tie the game 1-1.
After a level first half the teams started to show more emotion in the final 35 minutes. Off the push back Guelph road the momentum of their late, first-half goal with two quality chances just minutes in to the game. Chute was denied on two occasions, one a near break away, by Burlington, Ont. Native and Toronto goalie Fredo.
Successfully weathering the Guelph storm Toronto found themselves back the other way and a feisty attack in to the circle by Stairs eventually resulted in a penalty stroke being called. Penalty corner flicker and aerial specialist Lee stepped up to the spot and almost seamlessly roofed the ball high and stick side for the 2-1 advantage in the 41st minute.
Down by one the Gryphons continued to press forward but were awarded two yellow card cautions, one to each of Houle and Daniela Jelec, just three minutes apart. Toronto didn’t push hard despite being two players up and Guelph escaped their penalty time without allowing a goal.
Guelph had an equalizer opportunity with 13 minutes left in the game as Houle’s great vision allowed her to find Olivia Lane in the circle. Lane’s deflection went just wide of the goal. The Gryphons followed up their missed opportunity with another chance, this time coming from Chute. Chute curled strong and fired a shot on Fredo who made the timely save.
Toronto nearly improved their lead with eight minutes to go when Nikki Woodcroft found herself unpressured in the Guelph circle. The second-year midfielder blasted a shot just wide left of Kelley’s cage. Regardless, Toronto’s two goals were enough to get them in the win column on their second day of the championship with a final score of 2-1.
“We had a game plan and we really didn’t stick to it so obviously we are disappointed,” said Guelph head coach Michelle Turley. “We had a couple of opportunities that we should have put away late in the second half and if you can’t capitalize than that’s the way it goes. We’re ready to go for tomorrow and ready to bounce back. Every game is like being in the championship game because it’s so competitive.”
With all teams squared with a 1-1 record tomorrow simulates a semifinal stage with the top two teams in round-robin play advancing to the final. Day 3 on Nov. 7 will pit the host Victoria against Guelph at 12:30 p.m. and UBC will take on Toronto at 3:00 p.m.
Official championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/fh/index
SCORING SUMMARY (official stats: CLICK HERE)
TOR: 1-1: 2
GUE: 1-0: 1
TOR Tegan Stairs (1), 17th minute
GUE Allison Chute (1), 32nd minute
TOR Alison Lee (1), 41st minute
TOR: Sara Fredo (W, 70:00, 1 GA, 1-1)
GUE: Morgan Kelley (L, 70:00, 2 GA, 1-1)
Players of the game
TOR: Sara Fredo (Burlington, Ont.)
GUE: Erin Houle (Burlington, 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)
GP W L T GF GA PTS
1. Victoria 2 1 1 0 5 3 3
2. UBC 2 1 1 0 3 3 3
3. Guelph 2 1 1 0 3 3 3
4. Toronto 2 1 1 0 3 1 3
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 2, Victoria 1
18:30 Game 4: Toronto 2, Guelph 1