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.

Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required