Field hockey Gryphs atop league after win, tie

GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons claimed a win and a tie Sunday at Varsity Field to grab an early lead in the OUA women’s field hockey standings.

The Gryphs tied the Toronto Varsity Blues 1-1 and edged the Queen’s Gaels 1-0 to give them two wins and a tie on the opening weekend of league play.

Jessica Ballard scored on a corner late in the first half of the game against Toronto and the Varsity Blues responded with eight minutes to play on a goal by Taylor Fleck on a corner.

Melissa Vogl connected on a corner with a minute to go for the win over Queen’s. Morgan Kelley had the shutout.

While the Gryphs and Toronto have established themselves as the top two in the league over the last decade, they could have some company this year as both teams are in retooling years. The OUA title has been won by either the Gryphs or Toronto every year since 2003 when the Waterloo Warriors repeated as champions.

“Both of us have lost players so neither one of us is as strong, especially for our team,” Gryphon coach Michelle Turley said. “

For the Gryphs, their roster of 18 includes eight players new to the program.

The returnees are fifth-year goalkeeper Kelley, fifth-year defender Melissa Vogl, fourth-year defenders Rebecca Plouffe and Lauren Dewar, third-year forwards Olivia Finch of Kilmacolm, Scotland, and Katherine MacMillan, third-year midfielder Ballard, second-year forward Alexa Corrado and second-year midfielders Kayla Magarelli and Kendra Puttick.

While MacMillan is back, she didn’t play on the weekend due to a knee injury.

The rookie crew consists of midfielders MacKenzie Janzen and Danielle Crumpton, forwards Alice Stubbings of Emsworth, UK, and Maria Murray, defenders Sophia Jantzi, Yashi Zheng and Grace Doyle and goalkeeper Amanda Hodgert.

Scoring goals is likely to be Guelph’s biggest concern this season. The Gryphs scored 55 goals in the regular season last year, but won’t get near that total this year. Gone from last year are CIS co-player of the year Olivia Lane (17 goals), Stephanie Kingsley (7), Emily Hong (3) and Ciara Condon (2). Top returnees are MacMillan (12) and Finch (5).

By comparison, Toronto’s roster of 18 has 13 returnees including four – Nicole Spring (9 goals), Morgan Sleeth (7), Megan Johansen (5) and Fleck (4) — who accounted for a total of 25 goals in the regular season last year. Key losses are Alison Lee (14 goals) and Lauren Sudac (5).

This year the Gryphs will be looking to spread the scoring around a little more.

“We’ve got to take advantage of every player on the field,” Turley said. “It took us a while to get it sorted out, but last weekend (at a tournament in Toronto) we sorted out a couple of different systems that we have and everybody is being utilized and being involved.”

Saturday, the Gryphs had six players score in an 8-0 win over the McGill Martlets at Western.

“Last weekend (at the Toronto tournament), we had eight or nine different people score,” Turley said. “We scored a lot, but it’s good because then they can’t tell specifically who to mark.”

The Gryphs will also be looking to rookie midfielder Janzen for leadership. She sat out some of the preseason games healing a hip flexor injury before playing in the Toronto tournament.

“She played for me provincially for three years,” said Turley who is a veteran coach in the provincial system. “She cleaned up the middle with our structure and everything a whole lot and she has taken a leadership role. You can hear her talking out there. We said to everybody on the team that it doesn’t have to be a senior player. Just because you’re a rookie doesn’t mean you can’t contribute on the field in terms of your communicating, too.”

In other games at Varsity Field Sunday, Queen’s defeated the McGill Martlets 5-1, Western Mustangs edged McGill 2-1 and Toronto dropped Waterloo 7-1.

The league gathers in Kingston next weekend for play at Queen’s. The Gryphs are to play twice on Sunday with games against Queen’s at 10:45 a.m. and the York Lions at 2:15 p.m.

  • Guelph Sports Journal