A year of hard work and dedication came down to this. A frigid day in Halifax, with a frosty wind blowing through Huskies Stadium.
This was the site of Saturday’s CIS women’s field hockey championship semi-final match between U of T’s Varsity Blues and the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds. The extraordinary regular season, in which they went undefeated in 12 games (10-0-2) and allowed only one goal against, was now insignificant. But what the team had worked for all year was just a win away.
A win would push the Blues into the CIS final on Sunday, but U of T quickly discovered UBC had no intention of relinquishing their national field hockey throne. The Blues were defeated 3-0 by the defending champs.
UBC’s offence dominated the game, keeping U of T hemmed in their own end for most of the first half. All-Canadian midfielder Stephanie Jameson opened scoring with a hard, well-hit penalty corner at the 14-minute mark. The celebration was short-lived, as Jameson had to be removed from the game a few minutes later after she was hit on the nose by a dangerously raised ball.
The Thunderbirds’ ability to capitalize off penalty corners was the difference on Saturday. Fourth-year forward Giovanna Piccone showed off her hitting skills, burying the next two goals.
U of T’s usually powerful offence went to sleep on Saturday, unable to convert a single goal. Goalkeeper Emily Menzies earned the shutout for the Thunderbirds
Piconne’s two-goal performance earned her player of the game honours for UBC, while fourth-year sweeper Christine DeSantis earned the same title for the Blues.
The loss was a tough pill to swallow for the women’s team, but they had to put it behind them and look forward to their next game. U of T earned a spot in the tournament bronze medal game against the Waterloo Warriors. That game did not turn out any better, as Waterloo defeated the Blues 2-1, leaving them in fourth place at the nationals.
This was the second time in as many years the Blues have lost the bronze medal game. In 2001, U of T lost a heartbreaker at the hands of the Victoria Vikes, 1-0.
Waterloo came out firing on Sunday, scoring in the first minute of play on a penalty corner attempt. Fourth-year forward Michelle Schultz found herself in a one-on-one with Toronto’s goalkeeper Amaris Wilson, and buried the shot to give her team the early lead.
After an evenly played first half, Blues fourth-year sweeper Christine DeSantis tied the game at 1-1 on a field goal at the 43-minute mark. The goal seemed to spark U of T as they took control for several minutes. But at the 66-minute mark, a goal-line scramble saw Warriors forward Samira Viswanathan force the ball under a sprawling goalkeeper to put her team up 2-1. That’s all the scoring Waterloo would need, as they captured the bronze medal and got on the national podium for the second straight year.