Field Hockey Canada > Ontario wins Women's Under-18 gold in a shootout

The Under-18 Women’s National Championships came to a close on Saturday in Surrey, British Columbia with a thrilling gold medal game which needed a shootout to determine a winner.

After losing 6-1 to BC Blue in the round robin, the U18 women from Ontario saved their best performance for last, winning in the shootout 1-1 (1-1) (3-2 SO) and taking home the gold medal.

“We worked hard as a team,” says team captain Samantha Gomes. “We didn’t give up until the end. We had the will. Our three words, the belief, the will and the want.”

Ontario faced advertisty early as BC was able to make good on a string of penalty corners. In the 12th minute, finished off a corner by jamming the ball by Ontario keeper Elizabeth O’Hara to give BC Blue the 1-0 lead.

The goal gave the hosts momentum and they nearly capitalized again, but O’Hara remained calm in goal, turning away both corner and field goal opportunities and keep the deficit at only one.

That sparked the Ontarians. Gomes had a chance to tie the game in the 22nd minute but her quick wrister from in close went high and just wide. Then, minutes later, Hannah Eborall unleashed a heavy hit on a corner but also narrowly missed the goal.

In the 26th minute, however, Ontario made good on a turnover as Katherina MacMillan was open at the side of the goal and tapped the ball by BC Blue netminder Robin Fleming for her sixth of the tournament to tie the game at one.

“I knew had the girls had enough confidence in themselves,” says Ontario head coach Nicholas Govia. “We had a game plan going in and once we stuck to the game plan I knew we were going to come back.”

The second half didn’t produce a goal but it didn’t produce plenty of chances.

BC controlled the play for the majority of the second thirty five, earning several penalty corners. Team captain Alexis de Armond was connecting well on the hits from the top of the circle, but like Ontario in the first half, narrowly missed on a number of good opportunities.

Ontario had a late chance to win the game on a corner of their own in the final minute of play, but a deflection sent the ball just over the goal and wide before the hooter sounded to indicate the end of regulation time and the need for shootout.

“It was touch and go situation,” adds Govia. “You never know who is ready to do it but our girls they knew what they needed to do and stepped up and did what had to be done.”

Ontario scored on its first two shots and missed the next two, while BC missed its first but scored the next two. After four shots the shootout was tied 2-2.

It came down to the final shots for both teams. Margaret Pham, who scored five times during the tournament, scored for Ontario and on the last shot O’Hara was able to stop Casey Crowley for the win.

For BC Blue the loss is a bitter end to a great tournament. The team went 4-0 through the round robin, posting a goals differential of plus-32. But in the end, Ontario

“I thought both teams played very hard. It was very competitive out there,” says BC Blue head coach Paul “Bubli” Chohan. “Both teams didn’t give an inch and the end result was justified as tie.”

“Unfortunately, it’s one of those thigns that one team has to win in the shootout and anything can happen in the shootout.”

For Ontario it’s yet another win in a string of recent dominance at the pronvicial level. Ontario won both the U16 boys and girls title in 2014 and again this year, but the Under-18 win marks the first time in recent memory that they women have been able to get past B.C.

“B.C. had a stronghold for years,” says Govia. “But Ontario is more than capable of playing at this level and that’s what we did today.”

In the bronze medal game, which was played earlier on Saturday, BC White made it two medals for the host province as three first half goals from Emma Dame, Sarah Pendreigh, and Rachel Spouge led them to the 3-0 win.