T-Birds down Gryphons, Vikes tie Varsity Blues to advance to field hockey final

By The Canadian Press
November 5, 2016 - 4:15pm

TORONTO — Fourth-year veteran Stephanie Norlander scored three goals as the top-seeded UBC Thunderbirds advanced to the Canadian university field hockey championship with a 5-0 victory over the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday.

UBC, which has won a U Sports-leading 17 national titles, including the last five, will appear in its 25th national gold-medal match on Sunday. The T-Birds will play the No. 3 Victoria Vikes, who played to a scoreless draw with U of T later Saturday.

Guelph will play Toronto for bronze.

Norlander leads the tournament with five goals through round-robin action.

"Stephanie has been amazing for us all season," said UBC head coach Robin D'Abreo. "She is obviously an incredible athlete and very talented player but what I have really been appreciative of is how quickly she has become entrenched into our team and our culture and she's had a really positive impact off the field as well."

The T-Birds wasted no time as first-year defender Hannah Eborall beat Gryphons goalie Morgan Kelley in the second minute. Norlander put UBC up by 2-0 in the 31st minute.

Norlander added her second of the game in the 39th and completed the hat trick six minutes later. She then set up fellow all-Canadian Hannah Haughn, who dove to tip in a pass in the 54th minute to round out the victory.

The Vikes, who hold a 10-11 record in 21 national tournament gold-medal matches, have met UBC 11 times in the final, with the T-Birds winning eight of those games.

Sunday's medal matches will be a repeat of the 2015 finals. UBC topped Victoria 3-2 in penalty strokes while Guelph defeated Toronto 4-2 for the bronze medal.

Fourth-year defender Lizzie Yates earned player of the game honours for the Vikes in their tie against Toronto.

"I thought Lizzie Yates played amazing," said Vikes head coach Lynne Beecroft. "I think she was like a sponge, wherever the ball was she just seemed to be able to get her stick on it and make some really nice outlet passes to get the counter attacks going."

First-year U of T goalie Elizabeth O'Hara made several saves to keep the game scoreless. O'Hara was named the Blues player of the game following the match.

The Canadian Press

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