Thunderbirds beat Vikes, clinch 26th Canada West title on the road

Thunderbirds beat Vikes, clinch 26th Canada West title on the road

By David Conlin, Vikes Communications

VICTORIA – UBC keeper Rowan Harris was solid in her first action of the season and Emily Martin tipped in the winner in the 53rd minute as the Thunderbirds picked up a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Vikes at the UVic Field Hockey Turf on Sunday.

The win secures the Canada West banner for the Thunderbirds, the 26th in program history and eighth in the last ten years. Even though the two teams could end up with the same amount of points, UBC has the edge thanks to head-to-head results.

The only other team to take home a title since 1975 has been Victoria, but the Vikes were unable to even the season series on Sunday.

"They have some talented hockey players and they made us run a lot," said Vikes head coach Lynne Beecroft. "Despite the fact we had some players missing, we still had scoring opportunities and counter-attacks and all so I'm excited to see what happens when play them again next time."

Martin's goal, her second of the season, was a tough blow for the Vikes and the many fans that showed up to cheer them on Sunday. Not without chances throughout the first half, Victoria struggled to beat Harris when it mattered most.

"It's her first game this season…she made some spectacular saves, including one behind her back that was top notch," said Beecroft of UBC's keeper. "The goal that we got [from Amanda Kurianowicz] was top notch so give her credit because she made the saves that she had to."

Kurianowicz's goal came off a penalty corner in the 46th minute thanks to a dish from Rosie Beale and gave the Vikes some life in a big game. It was a good response to an early goal from Stephanie Norlander, who took the wind out of UVic's sails early with her third of the year in the 12th minute.

Larissa Piva had another excellent showing in net for the Vikes, turning aside a number of high quality chances for the second straight day. One of her most impressive saves came early in the second half, when she stacked the pads on a chance from Rachel Donohoe to keep the game tied.

"She's come up big for us," said Beecroft of her veteran goalkeeper. "The deflection goal they got on us—it's one of those ones where if our top runner doesn't get that pass they've got two tippers on that side so it's a hard one to save."

The Thunderbirds will have a break next week before welcoming Calgary for their final home stand of the season on October 22 and 23 while the Vikes host the Dinos for a pair of games on October 15 and 16.