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

November 8, 2015, VICTORIA (CIS) – It was a sad ending to a remarkable season for the University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey team who had the CIS championship within their grasps for 69 minutes. A last second penalty UBC corner goal for the second-straight game sent a 2-2 tie to shootouts where the Thunderbirds took it 3-1 in nine shooters. This is the 10th national silver medal for Victoria.

UBC’s Sarah Keglowitsch navigates around UVic goalie Larissa Piva to score one of the Thunderbirds three shoot-out goals in the gold medal win over UVic (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

With the win, the Thunderbirds added to a pair of national records as it marked their remarkable fifth-consecutive McCrae Cup triumph and their 17th overall. The T-Birds are now 8-3 all-time in CIS title matches against archrival Victoria. For the second-straight day, UBC kept its gold medal hopes alive with a last-second goal. In Saturday’s round-robin finale versus Toronto, the T-Birds escaped with a 2-2 draw and earned a spot in the final thanks to a 70th-minute marker by defender Sophie Jones.

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UBC’s Sarah Keglowitsch (16) navigates her way through a trio of UVic defenders during first half action Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

“I said to the girls that it’s funny our theme is the H-Factor because I said you have to hold your heads high,” said Lynne Beecroft, head coach of the Vikes and was CIS Coach of the Year after guiding her team to the program’s 17th Canada West banner. “I’m very proud of them and I know that losing and having a silver is a loss but I truly am just so proud of them. Some coaches here have said we were the best team here but we don’t have a lot of natural goal scorers and tend to rely on (Amanda Kurianowicz). If we can’t get her the ball then we have to find other ways and we had chances but it didn’t go our way today.”

UVic’s Kristina Walters-Shuma (left) drives past UBC’s Niki Best (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The T-Birds earned regular time goals from Emily Prystupa and Nicole Best with Best’s goal coming on the second of two penalty corners called at the final whistle. Rowan Harris, easily the top keeper in the tournament, stood on her head both in regular time and, more importantly, in the shootout with two key saves to secure the win.

UBC’s Sara Lowes splits through a pair of UVic defenders (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Victoria earned free play goals from Lizzie Yates in the first half and Rosie Beale in the second half, while third-year keeper Larissa Piva had a valiant performance making critical saves in regular time and a memorable save on Championship MVP Hannah Haughn in the shootout.

UVic’s Amanda Kurianowicz does her best to get off a shot amidst a trio of UBC defenders (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The first half saw the Canada West rivals even in possession, mostly in mid field, despite an early fourth-minute penalty corner for UBC. Unable to capitalize, the teams continued to play a game of chess in the middle of the pitch until Haughn showcased her talents ripping a back-hand that fired just over the cross bar in the 10th minute of play.

UBC’s Meghan Hayden carries the ball cross-field during Sunday’s action against UVic (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The Thunderbirds, despite not gaining many circle entries, were fortunate to earn a second penalty corner in the 15th minute after the Vikes were not five meters on a free hit outside the circle. The initial shot was blocked but Prystupa squeezed the rebound past Piva to lift the T-Birds 1-0.

UVic’s Alexis DeArmond looks upfield for a play during action against UBC Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The Vikes had a penalty corner 18th minute and fourth-year midfielder Kathleen Leahy thought she had tied it up but the goal was called back for the ball not being inside the circle when shot.

In the 28th minute Yates took a quick free hit on the 23-meter line and drove the circle on the right side. The third-year speedster blasted a shot towards the middle of the circle and it took a lucky deflection off the back heel of fifth-year T-Bird Katrina Davis and tied the game 1-1. That score remained at half time.

UVic’s Mei Lin Cheung (right) and UBC’s Cailean Meredith (left) battle for a loose ball Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The Vikes got a go-ahead goal in the 49th minute after forcing a penalty corner from some effective offensive pressure from forwards Amanda Kurianowicz and Stefanie Langkammer. Fourth-year defender Rosie Beale stepped up to the top of the battery and blasted an unpressured shot towards goal. The ball took a deflection off UBC’s Meghan Hayden’s foot to beat Harris low and give Victoria a 2-1 lead.

UBC’s Sarah Keglowitsch (left) protects the ball under pressure from UVic’s Kathleen Leahy (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Two yellow cards three minutes apart left the Vikes playing short for eight minutes but the veteran squad did well still maintain most of the possession and attack in that time. With 15 minutes on the clock Leahy charged down the right side, beating two T-Birds, and blasted a shot just wide left of the goal post.

UVic’s Katheen Leahy (left) is thwarted on this shoot-out attempt by UBC goaltender Rowan Harris (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

One minute later Haughn was causing havoc in the other end as the four-time CIS All-Canadian dangled her way into the circle and unleashed a back-hand shot that was saved well by the glove of Piva.

The Vikes had back-to-back chances on Harris with under five minutes to go but Langkammer’s shot was saved and then Yates’ shot went just wide right of the goal.

With under 20 seconds on the clock the Thunderbirds forced a penalty corner and the umpires allowed time to run out setting up a familiar scene from the Vikes’ 2008 championship win over Alberta in the same end of the same field. The Thunderbirds’ first penalty corner resulted in a re-take and, just like 2008 the Vikes were forced to defend two back-to-back corners with a 2-1 lead.

Cailean Meredith’s initial shot in hit defender Annie Walters-Shumka’s stick and fell just wide of Piva for Best to dive and tap the ball in as it trickled over the line to tie the game 2-2 in the dying moments of regular time.

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The 5-time champions UBC Thunderbirds sport their CIS Championship t-shirts (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

The game went straight to shootouts with Victoria being eliminated 3-1 after utilizing just four of their five shooters. Andrea Jones and Leahy’s eight-second attempts from the 23-m line were saved, while Kurianowicz was the lone scorer for the Vikes. Piva made a great first save on UBC’s Haughn, while the next three shooters – Keglowitsch, Meredith and Jones – each tallied to lift the T-Birds to one of the most storied championship victories in CIS history.

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The UBC Thunderbirds clinched their 5th straight CIS Women’s Field Hockey Championship with a shoot-out win against UVic on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart – ISN)

Following the match UBC’s Haughn was named the Championship MVP, while team mate Kelowitsch was also named to the Championship all-star list alongside Vikes Leahy, Walters-Shumka Kurianowicz. Earlier in the day Guelph beat Toronto 4-2 to capture the CIS bronze.

Official championship website: 

VIC: 1-1: 2
UBC: 1-1: 2

First half
UBC Emily Prystupa (1), 15th minute
VIC Lizzie Yates (1), 28th minute

Second half
VIC Rosie Beale (1), 49th minute
UBC Nicole Best (2), 70th minute

UBC: Rowan Harris (W, 70:00, 2 GA, 1-1-1)
VIC: Larissa Piva (L, 70:00, 2 GA, 1-1-1)

VIC: Andrea Jones, no goal (0-0)
UBC: Hannah Haughn, saved (0-0)
VIC: Lizzie Yates, saved (0-0)
UBC: Sarah Keglowitsch, goal (1-0)
VIC: Kathleen Leahy, saved (1-0)
UBC: Cailean Meredith, goal (2-0)
VIC: Amanda Kurianowicz, goal (2-1)
UBC: Sophie Jones, goal (3-1)

Players of the game
UBC: Sarah Keglowitsch (Shawnigan Lake, B.C.)
VIC: Lizzie Yates (Shawnigan Lake, B.C.)


Championship MVP: Hannah Haughn (West Vancouver, B.C.), UBC

R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award: Guelph Gryphons

Championship All-Stars
Allison Chute (Greenfield Park, Q.C.), Guelph
Hannah Haughn (West Vancouver, B.C.), UBC
Erin Houle (Burlington, Ont.), Guelph
Sarah Keglowitsch (Shawnigan Lake, B.C.), UBC
Amanda Kurianowicz (Calgary, Alta.), Victoria
Kathleen Leahy (Victoria, B.C.), Victoria
Alison Lee (Mississauga, Ont.), Toronto
Tegan Stairs (Kitchener, Ont.), Toronto
Annie Walters-Shumka (Victoria, B.C.), Victoria
Moon Weijens (Zelhem, Netherlands), Guelph
Amanda Woodcroft (Waterloo, Ont.), Toronto