Championship day here in Calgary for the U18 National tournament proved to be an exciting one. From highly charged consolation games to the game of the day, there was never a dull moment.
Manitoba and Alberta took the pitch first thing this morning, playing a scoreless first half. Alberta was heavy on the attack but the gates didn’t open until the second half when Sydney Short put away the first field goal, followed quickly by Courtney Andrews with a crafty play in front of net, and Jill Horne off a fast break. Alberta versus Manitoba ended at 4-0 when Julia Kwan finished a penalty corner for Alberta. Manitoba GK Kristen Hunt had another stoic day in net, banking some stellar saves.
The incredibly intense bronze medal game between BC White and BC Yellow showcased some excellent Hockey. It was back and forth for 64 minutes of play until #12 Rachel Kwan of BC Yellow knocked in a beautiful goal. Yellow held on for five more minutes to seal the deal on the bronze.
PEI and Alberta had a great match for 5th place. Both teams gained some confidence in the previous days’ games. The game was very offensive – PEI hit first at 10 minutes in as #9 Alyssa Fergusson put one away; Alberta answered with 2 goals from Courtney Andrews, and one before from Sophie Restauro. Nobody let up in the second half, PEI closing in at 2-3 when Morganne Rice notched an early one; however, Alberta answered with two more on the day from Tara Broten and Emily Prystupa. The host province solidified a 5th place finish.
BC Blue and Ontario then put on a show for us. It was a solid gold medal match, even playing, great skill, and beautiful finishes. BC Blue came out with high pressure and #7 Samantha McILwrick finished a fast break ball, making it 1-0 from the start. Ontario reciprocated just before half with a field goal from #6 Chelcie Mendonca. The second half was the same back-and-forth and very skilled hockey. Both teams changed their strategy a bit, and in the 55th minute Elizabeth Riedl put in the winning goal, adding an insurance goal for her squad just 8 minutes later. BC Blue held on for the win and will go home with the gold.
Congratulations to BC Yellow, Ontario, and BC Blue for medaling in the U18 National Tournament. Calgary is a wonderful host to hockey and thank you to Chrissy Kilroe and Burgundy Biletski of Field Hockey Alberta for organizing and facilitating.