The York University Lions field hockey team won the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship for the first time since 1996 with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Guelph Gryphons on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field.
With the win, their eighth in program history, the Lions have also advanced to the U SPORTS championships next weekend against the Canada West champion UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver.
The Gryphons finished with the silver medal for the fourth straight year.
The first half was a high-scoring affair in which the two teams traded goals, with the Lions taking the lead on two different occasions only to see the Gryphons equalize both times.
Standout rookie Jaslan Stirling, who was named the OUA’s rookie of the year and co-MVP earlier this week, started things off just over four minutes into the match with a great individual effort, bringing the ball into the circle on her own and firing it home. The lead didn’t last long, however, as fellow co-MVP Rebecca Plouffe levelled the game at 1-1 seven minutes later.
The scoring continued in the 15th minute when OUA all-star Sydney McFaul scored off a short corner to give the Lions the 2-1 advantage. She sent the ball into the circle initially, and then redirected it past the goalkeeper when it came back to her near the corner of the net.
Once again the Gryphons responded, this time from Kayla Magarelli also off a short corner. The score was tied 2-2 at the half.
The game settled down in the second and it wasn’t until the 43rd minute that Stirling scored again, her fourth of the tournament. The referees initially ruled it a no goal, but after conferring changed the call.
The Gryphons dominated play for the majority of the second half but the Lions made the defensive stops when they needed them to keep the ball out of the net. Guelph was awarded a short corner right at the final horn, but Sara Vollmerhausen cleared the ball out of bounds to secure the win.
She was named York’s player of the game, while Lauren Dewar earned the honour for the Gryphons.
After three years as gold medallists, the Toronto Varsity Blues were forced to settle for bronze after falling to the Gryphons in the semifinals on Saturday. They remained on the podium, however, with a 3-2 win over the Queen’s Gaels in an earlier match on Sunday afternoon.
Anna Costanzo opened the scoring in the eighth minute, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead. Eight minutes later, however, it was tied at 1-1 thanks to a goal by Ciara Morrison. The Varsity Blues took the lead again just minutes before the end of the first half with Emily Ziraldo’s third score of the tournament, and Toronto led 2-1 after 35 minutes of play.
The Blues wasted little time stretching their lead to two, with Nicole Spring scoring less than two minutes into the second half for a 3-1 advantage. Queen’s made things interesting in the 62nd minute with a snipe by Nicole Gaul on a penalty stroke, but they could not find the equalizer before the final horn sounded.
Toronto’s player of the game was Nicole Spring and the Gaels’s was goalkeeper Amanda Thoo.
The Western Mustangs finished in fifth place with a 1-0 win over the Waterloo Warriors thanks to a goal by Payten Lang in the 30th minute. Goalkeeper Marielle Fernback, the OUA goalkeeper of the year this season, was named Western’s player of the game. Miranda Hunter received the honour for the Warriors.
In the first match of the day, the McGill Martlets rolled to a 4-0 victory over the McMaster Marauders courtesy of a hat trick by Kasey Boyle. She scored in the fourth, eighth and 70th minutes to give her team the win and earn player of the game honours. Also scoring for the Martlets was Pria Flanagan.
McMaster’s player of the game was goalkeeper Jessica Kostuch.