Len Catling, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds clinched their 10th Canada West championship in the last 11 seasons with a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Vikes at UBC's Wright Field Sunday afternoon.
Margaret Pham and Meghan Hayden were the UBC goal scorers, while Anna Mollenhauer replied for the Vikes. UBC goaltender Rowan Harris was sensational in the UBC goal, outduelling UVic keepers Larissa Piva and Robin Fleming, who split the duties in the Vikes' net.
Clinching Canada West means UBC will host the 2017 U SPORTS national championship as they attempt to win their seventh consecutive McCrae Cup.
"It's really exciting to be hosting and hopefully we will get a good home crowd out," said Harris. "But we are always looking forward to the next game. We still have two more regular season games against Calgary. We have to make sure we are preparing for those."
The Thunderbirds opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Pham finished off a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play after the 'Birds had rushed up field.
UVic made the final third of the game very interesting when their dynamic defender Mollenhauer converted a penalty corner in the 53rd minute.
Needing an outright victory to keep their hopes of winning the Canada West title alive, the Vikes pushed everyone forward in the games dying minutes. Hayden made them pay by niftily converting a UBC counterattack.
With the conference title under their wings, Harris believes the main objective of the young Thunderbirds squad is to stay focused in their final two regular season games.
"We need to make sure we are recovering, making sure we are staying on top of our bodies and our health. Each time we come to training we need to be giving it one hundred percent and stick with our process."
UBC will host the Calgary Dinos for their final regular season games on October 14 and 15 at Wright Field. The U SPORTS field hockey championships will be held at UBC on November 3-5.
Victoria 0 1 – 1
UBC 1 1 – 2
UBC – #11 Margaret Pham FG, 22', 1-0 UBC
UVic - #6 Anna Mollenhauer PC, 53', 1-1
UBC – #14 Meghan Hayden, FG, 68', 2-1 UBC
VIC – Larissa Piva 35 MP, 1 GA
VIC - Robin Fleming 35 MP, 1 GA
UBC – Rowan Harris 70 MP, 1 GA
UBC – Sophie Jones (GC, 52')
PHOTO BY: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds