November 7, 2010
GUELPH, Ont. (CIS) – Katherine McNeill scored with four minutes left in regulation to lead the third-seeded University of Toronto Varsity Blues to the 11th CIS women’s field hockey title in team history thanks to a 2-1 win over the defending champion UBC Thunderbirds, Sunday afternoon.
The OUA finalist Blues return home from the tournament hosted by the University of Guelph with an unblemished record (5-0), a first for Toronto since 1996.
Thanks to their first CIS banner since 2007, the Blues are now tied with Victoria in second place all-time for most McCrae Cup triumphs, one behind UBC.
McNeill, a third-year forward from North Vancouver, B.C., picked the ball out of a scramble on a rebound and pushed it by goalkeeper Bea Francisco of Richmond, B.C., for her second marker of the tournament.
Toronto had opened the scoring for the fifth time in as many games this week when rookie forward Alexandra Evanysnyn of Burlington, Ont., tallied her championship-leading sixth goal 15 minutes in.
All-Canadian forward Victoria Pearson of Tsawwassen, B.C., evened the affair in the 26th minute for No. 2 seed UBC with her third of the competition.
Much of the first half was played in the neutral zone. The U of T defence was strong, holding UBC to only one short corner in the opening 35 minutes. The Blues however were unable to capitalize on their five penalty corner opportunities.
At the 15-minute mark, CIS all-star Kyesia O’Neale of Mississauga, Ont., received a pass down the right hand line and dished it off to Evanysnyn, who charged into the circle. What was supposed to be a hard cross deflected off a UBC defender’s stick and into the net.
UBC did not back down and the pressure paid off. Pearson picked off a U of T switch attempt in the circle and with a powerful, diving reverse shot got the Canada West champions on the board.
Evanysnyn’s outstanding offensive performance continued in the second half as she carried the ball all the way from half, earning a penalty corner on which Toronto could not capitalize.
Francisco kept her team in the game after forward Kirsten Bertsch of Duncan, B.C., was sent off with a green card for rough play. Francisco made a diving stop on a Blues forward in alone in the 42nd minute.
A few minutes later, UBC had a goal called back on a short corner on a whistle that went just before the ball hit the backboard revealing a foul on a Blues player.
Toronto netminder Kathryn Williams of Burlington, Ont., who was in net for three of the Blues’ victories at the championship, was able to keep the ball out in the final few minutes despite pressure from UBC.
The Blues defensive core of Frankie Vondrejs from Terra Cotta, Ont., and North Vancouver natives Heather Haughn, Lauren Mansfield and Kelley Lusk neutralized the strong T-Bird attack.
The Blues started their celebration only after they hit away an offensive short corner away after the final whistle was blown.
Third-year Toronto defender Kaelan Watson of Richmond, B.C., was named MVP of the championship.