Ali Baggott, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – In one of the most iconic field hockey rivalries in Canada the UBC Thunderbirds edged the Victoria Vikes 2-1 in what was a high calibre Canada West and Legends Cup match up on Oct. 6 in Victoria. All three of the game's goals happened in a 12-minute span in the second half as UBC improve their record to 2-0-3 and the Vikes fall to 2-1-2.
The Thunderbirds can attribute a lot of their success today due to the efforts of third year Margaret Pham. With the recent injuries to players Jordan Faiczak and Hannah Eborall, Pham stepped in to the midfield to help quarter back the 'Birds. Pham was involved in both goals of the game including scoring the game winner. Alyssa Nonis scored UBC's first goal on a penalty corner. Second-year defender Sara Goodman was also a rock in the back field denying several circle entries from the Vikes.
"Our game was just to come out hard and I think we did that," said UBC head coach Poonam Sandhu. "Losing Hannah and Jordan, who are pillars in the middle, it was tough in the beginning but with Margaret and Thora Rae stepping in to that role they have a done a really good job. Everyone is working hard to support each other in different roles."
For the home side, second-year keeper Robin Fleming made several saves in the game and both goals came on second and third-chance opportunities. Defender Anna Mollenhauer held the back line together, while Sam McCrory was the most offensive threat for Victoria. The Vikes spent 14 minutes total down a player due to card suspensions.
"We had our opportunities and we keep having our opportunities but we have to start to bury them," said Vikes head coach Lynne Beecroft. "We need a win tomorrow so we are going to do everything we can to regroup tonight."
The Thunderbirds forced the first save out of Fleming in the 13th minute when Thora Rae was able to find Abbey MacLellan just outside the circle. MacLellan cleverly fed Emily Martin on the left side but the baseline attempt was cleared by Fleming. Less than a minute later the Vikes had one of their first quality attempts as Delaney Booker worked hard down the left side to find Erin Dawson. The ball got caught in UBC keeper Rowan Harris' pads and popped behind her but the falling attempt at the empty net was stymied by a diving Goodman.
Dawson earned the first penalty corner of the game in the 24th minute as UBC's defence couldn't keep pace with the first year down the right side. Mollenhauer's sweep shot on the set piece was well blocked by the speedster Pham coming out of the UBC goal.
In the 30th minute the Vikes had another near attempt at goal as Anso Hannes' right-side cross found an unmarked Stefanie Langkammer in the circle. The fifth year turned to her back hand but her reverse stick sweep flew just past the right post.
The Vikes had yet another chance to go ahead in the 33rd minute on a give-and-go play between McCrory and Booker. McCrory's diving shot at goal went high on target but was steered away well by the confident glove of Harris.
The Thunderbirds earned a penalty corner in the final minute of the half but Goodman's sweep towards goal was saved by the right foot of Fleming. The game remained scoreless at half.
UBC had a wave of pressure when Mollenhauer was forced to serve a five-minute yellow card suspension. UBC had two quality opportunities in the 50th minute when Kaitlin Chow's deflection was saved from close range by Fleming. The ball popped lose to UBC's Martin but her shot was blocked by Vikes defender Emily Wong.
Back to even strength the Vikes came down the other end and rookie McCrory calmly eliminated two defenders and unleashed a low back-hand shot past second-half UBC keeper Gabriella Switzer to lift the Vikes 1-0.
UBC earned their second penalty corner of the game late in the second half and it took three shots to beat Fleming. Goodman was at the top of the battery and slid the ball down to Pham but Pham's two attempts at goal were denied by a sliding Fleming. Nonis calmly flipped the rebound ball over Fleming to tie the game 1-1.
"Robin has come in this year with renewed desire to compete and she has trained well and when you train well you can translate that in to the game," noted Beecroft. "It's unfortunate because usually on a penalty corner you just need to make the first save but she made two saves and then they scored."
Momentum turned in favour of the visitors as Lindsay Cole became the fourth Vike to sit off for a card. The Thunderbirds came charging down and although Fleming saved the initial shot by Alix Vanry, Pham was there to collect the rebound, curl strong, and slip the ball past Fleming's left foot for a 2-1 UBC lead and eventual final score.
"We didn't play our best game together and there was a bit more fear than fun but we need to be more in the moment and have more fun," added Beecroft.
The Vikes and Thunderbirds will clash again tomorrow, Oct. 7, at 11:00 a.m. at UVic's field hockey water-based turf. Important points will be on the line for qualifying for the U SPORTS national championship that will see only one qualifier from the Canada West.
53' VIC – Sam McCrory FG, 1-0 UVIC
57' UBC – Alyssa Nonis PC, 1-1 UBC
65' UBC – Margaret Pham FG, 2-1 UBC
VIC – Robin Fleming, 70 MP, 2 GA
UBC – Rowan Harris, 35 MP, 0 GA
UBC – Gabriella Switzer 35 MP, 1 GA
25' – VIC - #12 Kristina Walters-Shumka, GC
35' – VIC - #17 Sam McCrory, GC
47' – VIC #6 Anna Mollenhauer, YC
60' – VIC #13 Lindsay Cole, YC