Banner Season: Warriors use shootout victory to join top three seeds in semifinal slate

Photo by Gar FitzGerald
Photo by Gar FitzGerald

Guelph, Ont. (via Guelph Gryphons) – Championship action got underway with a quartet of quarterfinals on Friday, setting up what should be a sensational set of semifinals on Saturday after wins from the top three seeds and a shootout victory by the Waterloo Warriors.

No. 8 McMaster 0 vs. No. 1 Guelph 8

Playing host to the 2019 OUA Championship tournament and entering play as the conference's top seed, the Guelph Gryphons took care of business Friday morning (Oct. 25) at Varsity Field against the McMaster Marauders.

Coming into the match as the favourite against the No. 8-seeded Marauders, Guelph used a consistent attack to get themselves into the semi-finals. While keeping their opponent off the scoresheet, the Gryphons found the back of the McMaster goal eight times in their 8-0 victory.

After being named the OUA MVP yesterday, 5th-year forward Katherine MacMillan quickly made her presence felt for the home side. Just four minutes into the match, the Gryphons leading scorer during the regular season scored her first of the 2019 playoffs to give her team a 1-0 lead. Just a minute later, the Gryphons doubled their lead to 2-0 with a Bailey Mitchell goal. From there, Guelph continued to put the pressure on the Marauders and in the 20th minute that pressure resulted in Mitchell scoring her second goal of the contest. Guelph rounded out the first half scoring in the 29th minute with a goal from Nyah Miranda.

Holding a 4-0 lead at halftime, the Gryphons started to separate themselves from the visitors over the next 15 minutes. Getting goals from Kayla Magarelli, MacMillan (2nd of the game), and two from Alexa Corrado, Guelph had quickly jumped out in front 8-0.

"We just wanted to stick to our basics," MacMillan said after the win. "We played our game and we were able to work on some other things like different systems, and positioning as well. As long as we play our game I think that we can be pretty successful (this weekend)."

With the victory, the Gryphons advanced to the OUA semi-finals where they will face the Waterloo Warriors at 11am on Saturday. 

No. 6 Western 0 vs. No. 3 York 3

In the second OUA quarter-final of the day, the two-time defending champion York Lions used a strong second-half to get past the pesky Western Mustangs Friday afternoon at Varsity Field. On the back of three second half goals, the Lions were able to outlast Western 3-0, and advance to Saturday’s semi’s.

Coming in as the 3rd-seed in the OUA standings, the Lions did their best to put pressure on the 6th-ranked Mustangs, but despite doing so, were unable to find anything to show for it throughout the first-half. Western managed to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime, but just when it looked like the defending champs might be on the ropes, they began to roar.

Once the second-half came around, it didn’t take long for the Lions to get themselves on the board. In the 32nd minute, York worked the ball in tight before Alyssa Brooks was able to find the back of the net to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. Then just seven minutes later, York’s Lexi Hannah extended the lead to 2-0. Up by two and with the Mustangs beginning to run out of time, the Lions were able to put the game away in the 56th minute with a goal from Frankie St. Louis.

“We have to give Western credit, as they came with a lot of intensity to begin the game with and they gave us a hard time in the first half,” said Lions head coach Zeeshan Minhas. “Our girls showed good composure in the second-half though and in the end we were able to pull through.”

The Lions will now play in the first scheduled semi-final on Saturday, with that game set to begin at 9:00am from Varsity Field.

No. 5 Waterloo 3 vs. No. 4 Queen’s 2

Down by a pair of goals late in the third quarter, and their gold medal hopes in jeopardy, the Waterloo Warriors weren’t quite ready to call it quits yet. Scoring two unanswered goals in the second-half to tie the game, the Warriors then went on to defeat the Queen’s Gaels 3-2 in a shoot-out.

With Waterloo coming into the championship as the 5th-ranked team in the OUA, and the Gaels ranked 4th, there seemed to be even less separating the two teams on the field than there was in the standings.

Following a scoreless first quarter, it was the Gaels who got themselves the first lead of the match. In the 21st minute, a loose ball found the stick of Queen’s forward Cassidy Grimes and she fired it into the back of the net to make it 1-0 Gaels. The score remained the same for the final nine minutes of the first-half and into halftime.

Starting the second-half, it didn't take Queen’s very long to add to their lead. A 31st minute shot from Leigh Janssen deflected up and over everybody and into the back of the Warrior’s goal making it 2-0 Gaels. However, shortly after the second goal is when Waterloo began to shift momentum in their favour. The Warriors were able to keep the ball in Queen’s end, while also pressuring Gael’s goalie Claudia Aparacio. Then in the 43rd minute, Waterloo broke through. With the ball on her stick, Larissa McLeod drove towards the Gael’s net and fired a shot past Aparacio to get the Warriors on the board. Then just trailing by a goal, it was only four minutes later when they found the equalizer. After a ball deflected high in the air, Warrior’s forward Taylor Goodhue batted it out of the air and into the Queen’s goal to tie the game 2-2.

Over the final 13 minutes of regulation, neither team was able to break the deadlock sending the quarter-final to a shoot-out. With Isabelle Mastantuono scoring for Queen’s and Hannah Cook finding the back of the net for Waterloo, the two teams headed to the fifth round of the shoot-out tied 1-1. After Eileen Tudorica scored for the Warriors to put the pressure on the Gaels, Queen’s was unable to respond.

“I am really proud of how we were able to put a goal in, and then get the second one after that to tie it up,” said Warriors head coach Maria Leahy. “It was pretty nerve-wracking going into the shoot-out but I was confident going in that we had the shooters and that we had the goalie to come out on top, and I’m glad that’s how it went. I’m very proud of the girls and we are looking forward to playing Guelph tomorrow.”

As Leahy mentioned, the Warriors will now take on the Gryphons in Saturday’s second semi-final. The match will get underway at 11:00am.

No. 7 McGill 0 vs. No. 2 Toronto 7

Right from the opening whistle, the Toronto Varsity Blues made sure there wasn’t going to be a late day upset at the OUA Field Hockey Championship Friday afternoon at Varsity Field. Scoring early and often, the #2 Varsity Blues rolled to a 7-0 victory over #7 McGill.

Not allowing McGill to score, while scoring in each quarter of the match themselves, Toronto was able to secure the fourth and final semi-final spot.

It only took nine minutes for the Varsity Blues to open the scoring, as Emily Ziraldo was able to give her team the early 1-0 advantage. In the 14th minute, Toronto added to their lead when a long shot deflected off the stick of Madeline Sherwood and into the McGill net to take a 2-0 advantage into the second quarter.

In the second frame Toronto began to pull away. Finding the back of the net three times, they quickly extended their lead to 5-0. Anna Costanzo scored in the 17th minute, Rachel Spouge deflected the ball home in the 27th minute, and Hilary Ziraldo got herself on the scoresheet in the 30th minute with a penalty stroke.

During the third quarter, the Blues continued to attack McGill, but the 7th-ranked team was able to fend of Toronto for the most part. That was until the 39th minute when Emily Ziraldo scored her second goal of the game.

Throughout the final frame, the two teams went back and forth before Costanzo scored her second match in the 58th minute to round out the 7-0 victory.

“Our goal was to come out today and just play Varsity Blues field hockey and I think we achieved that,” said Toronto head coach Cassius Mendonca. “We still have other things that we have to fix but coming up with the win today was good for us, and raises our hopes heading into the semi.”

The Varsity Blues will now advance to the semi’s where they will take on the #3-ranked York Lions. The two teams will square off at 9:00am Saturday morning at Varsity Field.

In The Huddle: Playoff time
October 17, 2019 In The Huddle: Playoff time
In The Huddle: A perfect fit
October 10, 2019 In The Huddle: A perfect fit
In The Huddle: Learning to fly
September 27, 2019 In The Huddle: Learning to fly