BY TERRY BRIDGE
LISTOWEL BANNER SPORTS
CALGARY, AB – Sure, she already had a year of field hockey experience on the national stage, but that didn’t give Emily Corbett much of an advantage in making the team again this summer.
Corbett, an 18-year-old from Listowel, was one of about 200 girls who initially tried out for the Team Ontario under-18 club that attended the national championship at the University of Calgary July 18-22.
Corbett was Ontario’s goaltender in 2011, but a new bench boss was in charge of the 2012 version, negating any guarantee she’d be back.
“We had a new coach that had never seen any of us play,” Corbett said. “They didn’t even know who was on the team before.”
Did a new coach making the selections equate to nervousness that she’d miss the cut?
Not a chance.
“No, I was pretty confident in my skills,” Corbett said.
Over half the group of 200 didn’t feel the same way, as after the initial tryout in March, only about 70 came back to a follow-up weekend tryout in May.
She was one of four goalies hoping to make the club, and eventually she was one of 16 Ontarians named to the roster.
Four reserves were also named.
The theme of most Canadian field hockey championships is west coast dominance: British Columbia is a powerhouse in the sport.
They sent three under-18 teams to this summer’s tournament.
B.C. Blue ended up winning the gold medal over a surprising Team Ontario.
“They were probably training together for six months,” Corbett said, adding that Ontario only practiced as a team four times a week over a three-week period. “They had three teams this year, B.C., but it was like they were all very equal, so it wasn’t a big upset. But the B.C. Blue team, which is like the No. 1 team that we played for gold, was amazing. They had two girls that weren’t on the junior national team.”
Ontario ended up coming home with silver after falling 4-1 in the gold medal game.
Corbett, heading into her fifth year of high school this fall at Listowel District Secondary School, knew she had to be basically perfect in the final.
“I knew going in I had to have a shutout or we would lose, so I was kind of stressed out about that, and I think the team knew that we had to perform better than we had before,” Corbett said. “We weren’t playing very well or communicating. They had two or three 1-on-1’s come down on me and they scored on two of them.”
Ontario marched to the final on a 4-0 record, featuring an 8-0 victory over Alberta, a 4-1 triumph against B.C. White, a 5-0 win versus Manitoba and a 3-1 decision against B.C. Yellow.
Getting to the championship game – undefeated, no less – was a decent accomplishment considering the lack of preparation compared to the competition.
Some stellar goaltending helped them, too.
“Playing B.C. Yellow, I stood on my head for it. There were three 1-on-1’s and I stopped them all, which is really unknown in field hockey,” Corbett said. “I was really happy with that, and the B.C. White game. We all played really well and came out with the wins.”
Team Ontario had some talent on it, including players with NCAA past or upcoming experience through Missouri State, Rutgers and Kent State.
Some other relatively local players on the team included Emma Whitehall from Cambridge, Emma Stairs from Kitchener, and Nicole Paola, Shannon Eby and Maddie Thompson from Waterloo.
Corbett, an avid Detroit Red Wings fan, plays club field hockey out of Guelph.
She’s attended a camp for Michigan State and is considering her options – if she wants to play for a school in the United States or stay in Canada – for the 2013-14 season.