Freezing temperatures, snow and the best teams in Canada were merely roadblocks in the way of the Thunderbirds’ path to revenge and CIS gold.
On Sunday at Hawkings Field in Calgary, the UBC captured their record 13th CIS women’s field hockey championship and their 8th in 14 years, defeating the University of Calgary Dinos 3-1.
With UBC up 2-1 in the final minutes, fourth-year forward Robyn Pendleton found some open space in the circle and snapped a shot past Dinos goaltender Steph Petrowitsch, ending any chance of a Calgary comeback.
The goal capped off an amazing tournament for the ‘Birds, who were immaculate throughout nationals, storming through preliminary round robin action with a perfect 4-0 record.
In their first game on Thursday they defeated the No. 1 ranked University of Toronto 2-1. Last year Toronto beat UBC 2-1 in the national final.
On Friday morning UBC took down the University of Alberta 2-0. Later that day they played their third game in 28 hours. The game was initially delayed due to two inches of snow on the field. After the field was cleaned up by several volunteers, and with a light snow still falling, UBC trounced Calgary 4-2.
Pendleton was instrumental in the win, scoring two goals, including the game winner. She finished the tournament with four goals.
In the 42nd minute of Friday’s game, with the ‘Birds up 2-1, Pendleton burst past defenders in Calgary’s circle. As she got to the goal she was hauled down by Calgary’s goalie. While falling, Pendleton managed to keep possession of the ball and bury it into the back of the net.
“That goal was just world class,” said UBC head coach Hash Kanjee.
After cruising past the University of Guelph on Saturday 2-0, UBC had their rematch against Calgary on Sunday for the CIS title.
The T-Birds’ Sara McManus opened the scoring for UBC, netting a goal from a penalty corner in the ninth minute. In the final minutes of the half, Calgary evened the score on a penalty corner of their own.
“We always knew they were going to score. It was a matter of us getting more than Calgary was going to get,” said Kanjee. “One of our games this year, they tied us 4-4. We scored three up on them and they came back and scoured four, so we know they can score against us.
“They have some kids who get in the right places at the right times and get some good touches on the ball.”
Poonam Sandu, who was named a tournament all-star, scored the game winner in the 44th minute off a penalty corner.
Though Pendleton was the tournament’s MVP, it was a complete team performance against Calgary that brought home the gold. UBC offensively overpowered the Dinos, outshooting them 11-4.
“It’s great to perform at this tournament,” said Pendleton. “There’s always a lot of nerves going on, and especially today in such an exciting environment, so it was good to have a great team performance when it counted.”
It was the end to a banner career for Pendleton at UBC, who earlier in the week was named the CIS MVP and after the final named MVP of the tournament.
“The championship trophy is the one I really wanted and it’s great to cap off my career with a win at nationals,” she said. “It couldn’t have gone down a better way.”