Silver linings: National team players boost UBC past UVic for national field hockey title

As the UBC Thunderbirds claimed its third straight CIS National women’s field hockey championship 4-1 against the UVic Vikes

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Clint Hamilton’s fanaticism is real, if anyone was asking.

UVic’s Director of Athletics and Recreation, a giant man and an even bigger Vikes fan, cheered his UVic Vikes women’s field hockey team to the bitter end of its 4-1 loss to the UBC Thunderbirds in the McCrae Cup CIS National championship at UVic on Sunday.

The Vikes had put in a championship effort of its own until the hooter sounded, but it was to no avail. At that point the Thunderbirds went choral, singing in triumph for their third straight title. Before the season even started it was clear UBC would be a cut above its university competition. It won last year’s McCrae Cup final 3-0 over Toronto in a game that could have been 6-0.

The Vikes, bless their silver hearts, did the best they could to bring the ball up-field and even carried the momentum of the McCrae Cup game for a good run in the first half. But scoring chances were tough to come by, and the Vikes were forced to stop a lot more quality attempts by the Thunderbirds than vice versa. Not even Hamilton’s vocal affirmation could change UBC’s destiny. Such was the reality when the T-Birds, a team with nine national players, dug its cleats into the water-based turf of UVic, against a Vikes team that was not only younger, with just one fourth-year and one fifth-year player, but also with just one player who trains with the national team, Kathleen Leahy.

“UVic brought a good game. If we had sunk a few our earlier chances it could have been a slightly higher score line,” UBC coach Kash Hanjee said. “It’s probably the best UVic side I’ve seen in several years, shouldn’t have anything to be unhappy about. I see big things for them in the next few years.”

“We put it all out there (Sunday) and we deserve silver. Gold is nicer but (UBC’s) a tough team with high-capped (national) players,” said graduating captain Kyla Kirby.

It was the final game for the former Lambrick Park student, as Kirby will likely suit up for the Kirby’s Island Wildcats (no relation) premier team next year.

Kirby still hopes to take a crack at the Vancouver-based senior national program, which can be elusive for the busy schedules of UVic student-athletes.

The Vikes qualified for the McCrae Cup, CIS championship final with 3-0 round robin wins over the Guelph Gryphons and Waterloo Warriors. The T-Birds, meanwhile, trounced the Gryphons 7-1 and Warriors 10-0.

Amanda Kurianowicz was the only Vike to score in the gold medal game, her fourth goal of the tourney.

Vikes goalie Sheridan Goodmanson was named to the tournament All-Star team with midfielders Kirby and Leahy. UBC’s Abigail Raye was named the tourney MVP, one of five Thunderbirds named to the 11-player All-Star team. Guelph won bronze  6-1 over Waterloo.

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