Len Catling/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The last game of the 2016 regular season was a spirited one at Wright Field. The UBC Thunderbirds (6-0-2) came away with a 3-0 victory over the Calgary Dinos (0-8-0) in a back and forth match that saw great goaltending on both sides.
Dinos keeper Ingrid Ulrich was a marvel to watch, diving all over her crease to thwart the UBC attackers. At the other end of the field the combination of Gabriella Switzer and Rowan Harris were called upon multiple times to keep the Calgary forwards at bay, preserving the 'Birds sixth shutout of the 2016 season.
After creating relentless pressure and several glorious scoring chances, UBC was able to hit the scoreboard in the 22nd minute. The ball rattled around the Calgary goalmouth after a penalty corner, before being emphatically slammed home by UBC defender Sophie Jones.
Calgary nearly tied it up late in the half, but Switzer dove across the crease to get her leg pads on a low, hard shot, keeping the Dinos scoreless. The save was good timing for Switzer who was named the Canada West Goalie of the Year after the match.
"I'm pretty surprised and it's just a huge honour," said Switzer when asked about the award. "Everyday I get to put on the T-Bird jersey it's just a huge honour."
In the 37th minute Ulrich made her one gaffe in what was otherwise a stellar performance. A slow rolling shot by Stephanie Norlander slid under Ulrich's right foot and into the net. The goal was Norlander's third in two games, giving her five on the season and making her the top scorer on the 'Birds in 2016.
UBC finished off their scoring with a tic-tac-toe passing play that saw Niki Best tap a beautiful cross-crease feed from Margaret Pham into the empty net.
After the match the Canada West All-Stars and season awards were handed out. Along with Switzer's honour for goalie of the year, UBC defender Rachel Donohoe took home the coveted Canada West Player of the Year award.
"For me it's exciting and it's fun," said Donohoe. "I love the sport and this all really means a lot to me."
The Thunderbirds now have a little less than two weeks to prepare for the national championships to be held at the University of Toronto, November 3-6. UBC will be looking to win their sixth consecutive national championship in women's field hockey.
Calgary: 0 – 0 : 0
UBC : 1 – 2 : 3
UBC: Sophie Jones (19'), Stephanie Norlander (37'), Niki Best (67')
Calgary: Ingrid Ulrich, 70 minutes played, 3 goals against
UBC: Gabriella Switzer, 35 minutes played, 0 goals against, Rowan Harris, 35 minutes played, 0 goals against
IAMGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds