Canada West rivals the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the University of Victoria Vikes will clash for national supremacy today with the McCrae Cup up for grabs at the U Sports women’s field hockey championship in Toronto.
The T-Birds will attempt to claim their sixth straight national crown after dismantling the Guelph Gryphons 5-0 in semifinal play on Saturday.
Needing just a tie against Toronto, the Vikes and Varsity Blues battled to a 0-0 result that propelled Victoria through.
It will be a tough hill to climb for coach Lynn Beecroft’s Vikes, who have lost twice and tied twice in four previous meetings with UBC this season. The T-Birds also defeated Victoria 3-2 in last year’s national championship final at UVic and are undefeated against the Vikes in their past 10 meetings on the national stage (6-0-4).
The Vikes dominated Toronto on Saturday but freshman goaltender Elizabeth O’Hara was spectacular, thwarting every Vikes advance.
“She played outstanding,” said Beecroft. “She’s not big so you think you have lots of net to shoot at, but she just seems to find a way to get there, whether it’s her stick, her body or whatever. She had a great game today, for sure.”
Stephanie Norlander led the T-Birds on Saturday with three of the five goals as top-seeded UBC cruised into the championship game.
Today’s final, at noon Pacific time, will be the 25th national gold-medal match for UBC. The T-Birds have won a U Sports-best 17 women’s field hockey titles.
Norlander, a fourth-year all-Canadian, leads the tournament with five goals.
In Canada West basketball play, the Vikes women found out that if the No. 1 Regina Cougars are the measuring stick, then No. 10 UVic has some work to do.
For the second straight night, the Vikes fell behind early, this time by a 20-2 margin, before dropping a 69-53 decision to the hosts.
Charlotte Kot and Katie Polischuk led the now 2-0 Cougars with 17 and 16 points, respectively, while Jenna Bugiardini replied with a team-high 16 for the 0-2 Vikes. Marissa Dheensaw had seven rebounds for Victoria.
In men’s play, coach Craig Beaucamp’s Vikes lost 77-57 to the Cougars. Grant Sitton had 15 points for Victoria, which is now 1-1, while Brian Ofori had 17 for Regina, which is also 1-1.
At the U Sports women’s rugby championship in Victoria, the Vikes dropped a 29-20 overtime decision to Concordia in one consolation semifinal, while McMaster peppered Acadia 24-5.
The two winners advance to today’s consolation final at 11 a.m. at Wallace Field.
St. Francis Xavier faces Ottawa in today’s gold-medal game at Centennial Stadium at 3 p.m. after Guelph takes on Calgary in the bronze-medal game at 1 p.m., also at Centennial.