Reaching the vaunted pinnacle of a national championship, Kaitlyn Ross provided a tremendous poise, guarding the crease for the victorious Mount Royal Cougars. With pulse pounding performances in the semifinals and finals, victories over the host Carabins de Montreal and defending national champion Concordia Stingers, Ross made her mark as a prime time player.
A two-sport star, having also excelled as a catcher for Canada’s national women’s baseball team, the alum of the famed Notre Dame Hounds hockey program also played alongside Ella Matteucci on the diamond. Enjoying a bronze medal at the 2019 Women’s World Baseball Championships, Ross enjoys another common thread with Matteucci. Of note, Matteucci, currently competing in the PWHPA, enjoyed a national championship with Clarkson University. With Ross joining her in this unique company, hoisting the Golden Path Trophy, she has proven equally talented as both, goaltender and catcher, able to excel in two of the most demanding positions in sport.
Entering the 2023 USports Nationals as the eighth seeded team, the ranking did not discourage the determined Cougars. Facing off versus the top ranked University of Toronto Varsity Blues, a strong sense of deja vu set in. Worth noting, the 2020 edition of the Nationals saw the Cougars situated in the seventh seed, while the Varsity Blues, coming off an emotional McCaw Cup triumph in OUA play, were perched second. Defeating the favored Blues in 2020, it marked a key step forward in the program’s progression towards national prominence.
A rematch three years later ended with the same result, derailing the Blues championship ambitions. Prevailing in a 3-2 final, Courtney Kollman, Jori Hansen-Young and Breanne Trotter contributed goals. Worth noting, Trotter assisted on Tatum Amy’s overtime winner versus the Blues at the 2020 Nationals. Fittingly, Ross was the winning goaltender in both games, signifying key triumphs in her career.
“I think even starting from the beginning of the year I had faith in this team. Beating U of T to repeat history was a great feeling but we did have the end goal in mind of the National Championship, and I think we had so much heart and were so connected that we knew we could do it.”
With the opportunity to play for the national championship taking place against the defending champion Stingers, any success would prove well earned. Displaying tenacity and character, the Cougars kept their opponents off the scoresheet in the first period, Ross recording 10 saves in a valiant performance.
Despite the Stingers taking a 3-2 lead at the 11:55 mark of the third, McCoy would not allow another goal. As the Cougars attempted to tie the game and force overtime, the persistence paid off in highly dramatic fashion as Breanne Trotter found the back of the net with just two seconds remaining. Rising to the occasion in overtime, Ross logged five saves. Nullifying a Stingers power play opportunity, the only one in the extra frame, her efforts instilled the belief that the championship was within reach. With Emma Bergesen scoring on Stingers backstop Alice Philbert, providing the resilient Cougars with their first ever Golden Path Trophy, the excitement of the win was only surpassed by an inspiring overall effort.
“Yes, obviously Concordia is a great team. We knew we had to play solid all game to get the win. I think what made it more special was the way we did it. Scoring with 1.8 seconds left to tie the game and going through the adversity we did then finally finishing it off in overtime was the cherry on top.”
Showered with numerous accolades, the aftermath of the championship resulted in recognition as the Athlete of the Week from both, MRU and U Sports. Celebrating her solid consistency between the pipes, a strong display of poise that enabled the Cougars to vanquish three higher seeded opponents at Nationals, the well deserved acclaim accentuated the incredible achievement. With place in program history assured, the performances truly inspiring, the greatest privilege for a grateful Ross involved belonging to a remarkable roster that shall always stand as champions.
“Getting the individual recognition for all the hard work and adversity I went through this year was such a sweet feeling. Yet, I do not think any of that will ever top this team and our championship. In the future, I will not remember what I achieved individually, but what we achieved as a team.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“