Emma Kikulis/THE VARSITY

The Varsity Blues field hockey team defended their OUA banner this past Saturday. The team came from behind to clinch a win over the Guelph Gryphons in a nail-biting 4-3 game on back campus. The win is the fourth OUA banner that the Blues have won in the past five seasons, and put the women’s team on the top of the CIS leader board.          

The game started off slow for the Blues who were overwhelmed by the Gryphons. The first goal of the game came early, when, in the sixth minute, Gryphons’ forward Allison Chute fired the ball past Blues’ goaltender Sara Fredo. The Gryphons didn’t let up, and taking advantage of the Blues’ poor defense, scored again a minute later on a goal from Gryphons powerhouse Olivia Lane.      

A penalty card 14 minutes into the game sidelined Blues’ defensive player Taylor Fleck — allowing another successful attack by Chute who scored her second goal of the game.

With less than eighteen minutes left in the half, the Gryphons were up 3-0 and showed no signs of relenting.

The Blues, however, found their stride in the seventeenth minute when a goal by third-year Lauren Sudac put the team on the board — giving the Blues, a much needed confidence boost, and enabling them to keep the pressure on the Gryphons’ defense. Another goal by the Blues, this time by rookie Sarah Pendreigh, brought the score to 2-3 just before the end of the first half.

The one goal difference seemed to reinvigorate the Blues who came back onto the field with an energy and ferocity not seen in the first half. Fifth-year OUA all-star and member of Canada’s bronze medal winning Pan Am team, Amanda Woodcroft brought the score to 3-3 — tying up the game with under 20 minutes remaining. 

After a few penalty corners for both teams, and only five minutes remaining, it looked as if the game would be forced into overtime. However, during the last five minutes of the game, Woodcroft fired the ball into the top right hand corner of the net, way above the Gryphons goaltender. A goal which seemed impossible for Woodcraft to make from so far, edged the Blues past the Gryphons to win the OUA championship 4-3. “I think I had to close my eyes!” said Woodcroft about the goal post-game, “I’m going to look back on it I’m sure, and it’s going to be one to remember.” 

Head coach John DeSouza was equally as impressed, “You [couldn’t] write that in a book… it was awesome,”  he said.

Both the Blues and the Gryphons will advance to the CIS championship that start on November fifth at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The Blues, coming off a silver medal at last seasons CIS championship, will face their greatest rival, the UBC Thunderbirds, who are the four-time defending CIS field hockey champions.

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