Special players make special plays on special days.
It’s been no secret that Anna Mollenhauer is a special player and she proved why once again in Game 2 of the U SPORTS national championship.
The third-year defender netted a pair of goals as the University of Victoria Vikes sunk the University of Guelph Gryphons 3-1 on Saturday night to capture their second consecutive national championship at the UVic Field Hockey Turf.
“The crowd was amazing tonight. We heard them throughout the entire game. Last year at York, it was exciting to play in nationals, but it was nothing like playing her on home turf. It was really cool to have alumni come cheer us on and very special to play with my mom’s old teammates kids,” said Mollenhauer.
Mollenhauer got the capacity crowd fired up in the sixth minute when she unleashed a tomahawk in front of the net to beat Gryphons keeper Amanda Hodgert on the near side.
The two-time All-Canadian wasn’t done there, as two minutes later off a penalty corner, Mollenhauer used another tomahawk to power one past Hodgert.
For her efforts, Mollenhauer was named the U SPORTS national championship MVP.
“We moved [Anna] up for hits from the outside to generate more offence and she create more chances for herself and she is also very good on the penalty corners. We’re lucky to have her. She could have decided to go try out for the national team this year, but she wanted to get her studies done and play with this group,” said Vikes Head Coach Lynne Beecroft.
The Vikes kept piling on in the first quarter when after a great save by Hodgert on Leina Dueck in close, Ashton Aumen cracked a hot shot past the Woodham, ON native to put the Vikes up 3-0.
The reigning Liz Hoffman Award winner Katherine MacMillan got going in the second quarter for the Gryphons. She got a blade on an exterior shot by Lauren Marcolini, but Vikes goalkeeper Robin Fleming punched it out of play.
In the third quarter, MacMillan got on the board when Judy Cristante blocked a shot on the Vikes goal line with her body. That save resulted in a penalty stroke for MacMillan and she ripped one past Fleming in the top left corner.
Shortly after, MacMillan was on a two-on-one and gave it up to her teammate Alexa Corrado, but Fleming pounced on the play and made the diving save.
“We don’t’ know what we would do without Robin. She’s so good. She has our backs no matter what,” said Mollenhauer. “It’s really exciting knowing someone is behind us if – and when – we make mistakes. She always cleans things up for us.”
Just before the end of the third quarter, Mollenhauer received a penalty stroke after a Gryphon defender made an intentional foul inside the shooting circle.
Looking for the hat trick, Mollenhauer fired high on the blocker side, but Hodgert made the incredible diving stick save to preserve the score.
In the fourth quarter, the Ontario University Athletics conference All-Star Kayla Magarelli was in on Fleming, but the keeper from Duncan, BC went old school and stacked the pads to shut her down.
The Gryphons were getting their opportunities late, as Leina Dueck was given a yellow card with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation. During that advantage, Mackenzie Janzen appeared to add one for the Gryphons in the final minutes of regulation, but the referees claimed she scored from the outside and disallowed the goal.
“As long as our players left it all on the field, we won’t have any regrets and I thought we played our hearts out today. Even though we were down 3-0, it didn’t feel like a 3-0 game. It was a very competitive game and there was no quit in us. This game showed our heart and determination. We played a very skilled game of hockey and we had several rookies on the field for a long period of time. There were a lot of impressive moments to takeaway from this weekend,” said Gryphons head coach Michelle Turley.
The national championship win was the first on home soil since 2008 and the first time the Vikes repeated as national champions since the 1994 and 1995 campaigns. The win was the 13th national title for the Vikes.
“I am super excited for our athletes. We have a great group of girls that really connected on and off the field. It’s super exciting for them to be successful and for them to have this fan support,” said Beecroft.