Gryphon soccer women into Final Four

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons erupted for four goals in the second half as they disposed of the Laurier Golden Hawks with a 5-0 victory in the OUA women’s soccer league’s quarter-finals Sunday at the Gryphon Soccer Complex.

“We didn’t change so much at halftime, but what we did realize was that they were going to come out and make a push. It’s a very good team, very well coached with a lot of history behind them,” Gryphon coach Shayne Campbell said. “We learned last year against Laurier that even though we scored late in the game, they came back to tie it up. With the players they have, they can turn a game on a dime. It was more just refocusing them and remembering that it’s a 90-minute job that we have to do all the way.”

The output came from a Gryphon team that averaged about 1.5 goals per game.

“It’s something you’ve just got to keep believing in and you work hard towards,” Campbell said of adding to the team’s scoring. “I think it comes from a real collective approach. We have a lot of players that are contributing to the goals that are going in. That’s probably the biggest key for us, a well-rounded approach. Everyone pulls their weight on this team.”

The Gryphs grabbed the early lead on a goal by Tori Hinchliffe seven minutes into the match. That goal stood until Vanessa Mazur scored 10 minutes into the second half. Mazur added a second goal six minutes later before Hinchliffe scored her second of the game with three minutes to go. Hayley Howes added the final goal in the final minute.

Last year the Gryphs edged Laurier 2-1 at the Gryphon Soccer Complex in the opening round of the playoffs. In that game, the Gryphs scored the opening goal with three minutes to play, but Laurier pulled even in the final minute. However, the Gryphs eventually won in penalty kicks.

“We did think about it,” Campbell said. “They came back and we ultimately won in penalties, but when you score that late in the game you should ultimately close it out and it was because we thought the job was done. We really focused this year making sure it was a 90-minute performance, it was a full performance no matter what the ebbs and the flows of the day went.”

The win puts the Gryphs into this weekend’s Final Four tournament at Oshawa.

“This week we make sure that the players are ready and make sure they are prepared,” Campbell said. “They’ve got very, very good teams on that side (East Division) so we’ll have to be prepared. The one thing I know about this squad is that they will be.”

The Gryphs, second in the West Division at 10-4-2 in the regular season, are to play the UOIT Ridgebacks of Oshawa, first in the East at 14-0-2, in the semifinals Saturday.

“You want to peak and it’s about preparation. We’ll work very hard to prepare this week to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity in that first game,” Campbell said. “I’m really proud of the group. We’re roster strong and everyone’s contributed to this performance today. I really feel it and I really mean it. It’s been a performance that is exemplified by rookies starting in this game today. I think that’s the confidence we show in this squad as a whole. Everybody pulls their weight on the team and grabs a paddle and they keep doing it. I can’t say enough about the collective effort of these guys.”

The Guelph-UOIT game is to go Saturday at 1 p.m. at Oshawa’s Terry Kelly Stadium while the other semifinal featuring the Queen’s Gaels and Western Mustangs is to follow at 4 p.m. Queen’s was second in the East at 12-3-1 while Western was first in the West at 14-1-1.

Saturday’s winners are to meet in Sunday’s gold-medal match at 4 p.m. while Saturday’s losers are to battle in the bronze-medal game Sunday at 1 p.m.