Hopes of playing for the gold medal before their home fans died Saturday when U of T’s field hockey team was handed a tough 1-0 loss by UBC.

The British Columbia Thunderbirds went on to win their third national crown in four years, while their Lotusland compatriots the Victoria Vikes rubbed salt in the Blues’ wound with a 2-0 victory over U of T in the Bronze medal match.

“I think we had some amazing scoring opportunities,” said goalie Maris Wilson of the loss to the undefeated Thunderbirds “We just couldn’t convert on them.”

Victoria scored its first goal in a scramble for possession during the 20th minute of play.

After the goal, the Blues mounted an impressive series of attacks on the Vikes’ goal, but a few frustrated gasps from the crowd were all that resulted from several scoring opportunities.

The heat continued into the second 35 minutes of play, with one four-minute span featuring five legitimate scoring opportunities, including a cross from Alex Chacinsky on a short penalty corner that just whizzed by the stick of Barby Beshara on the far post.

“It could’ve been luck, who knows,” said a perplexed Chacinsky after the game. “We certainly had the opportunities.”

Vikes forward Kate Lindsay put away the insurance goal along the left post, catching Wilson out of position in the 63rd minute of play.

“I think that this was definitely a development year for us after losing six starters,” said head coach Beth Ali on the loss of half the previous year’s starters, including two All-Canadians.

“I think that they’ve learned a lot from this experience. Next year they’ll remember all these experiences and they will be able to put those balls in the net.”

In a year when so much practice time was devoted to the enrichment of technical skills, Ali believes that in future seasons the team will be able to work on the execution of game plans.

“You can’t put the cart before the horse,” she said, referring to training the younger players. “This year, from the beginning we knew we were going to do technical development and next year, clearly, we’ll be adding more tactical playing systems.”

The coaching staff is anticipating a solid campaign in 2002 with the return of Tournament MVP Christine DeSantis, three Tournament All-Stars, three All-Canadians, four Conference All-Stars and Conference MVP Erin Fraser, as well as several talented new rookies. “Things are looking up. We’re looking for gold next year,” added Chacinsky.

Photograph by Simon Turnbull

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