Pegasus complete the 'double' after Champions Trophy win over Loreto
Pegasus were crowned all Ireland champions twice over yesterday when they defeated Loreto 4-2 in a dramatic penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in an exciting Champions Trophy final at Havelock Park.
The Belfast side had already lifted the regulation season title and by winning the playoffs qualify for the top flight of European competition next year with Loreto taking the second division spot.
However, there was disappointment for the men of Lisnagarvey who went down 2-0 in their Champions Trophy final, the Dublin side scoring a goal in each half, despite having to soak up a lot of pressure.
It was the same for Pegasus, who were under the cosh for most of their game in which they scored a late goal through Alex Speers to force the shootout.
Pegasus had looked destined to lose out to the Leinster side, whose near constant pressure was rewarded when they broke the deadlock with just three minutes remaining.
But Pegasus got out of jail when they snatched that last gasp equaliser with just 75 seconds on the clock.
Megan Todd picked up the goalkeeper of the tournament award for her heroics both in the match itself, the shootout and the semi-final.
After Shirley McCay had missed the first of the ice hockey style one-on-one run ins, Ruth Maguire, Michelle Harvey, Kate Gourley and Taite Doherty all scored to complete a memorable campaign.
Pegasus have now become the first Ulster side to do the double, having won the regulation season title last month.
It was a rearguard action for the most part in yesterday's final after another late show in Saturday's 2-1 semi-final win over Cork Harlequins when Doherty struck the decisive goal with three minutes left.
Loreto dominated most of the proceedings but with Todd in inspired form, they were unable to capitalise until they went in front near the end.
Pegasus captain Harvey said: "We absorbed a lot of pressure but kept our concentration until the end and didn't allow our heads to drop when we fell behind so late in the game."
"We had practiced penalties during the week and, on the day, it was a matter of who felt confident enough to step up and take them and fortunately the girls kept a cool head.
"It's been a fantastic season for us to have done the double and also lifted the Ulster Shield so all credit is due to the entire squad."
Loreto made the better start and Ireland World Cup star Nicci Daly went closest to scoring when her backhand shot crashed off the far post.
Another of the Dubliners' internationals, Sarah Torrans, was denied by Todd and then a goal line clearance after the break as Loreto continued to dominate and they went ahead in the 67th minute when Siofra O'Brien netted with a powerful backhand effort.
But Pegasus staged a late revival and Speers deflected home McCay's penalty corner high into the net to set up the shootout in which Todd stole the show with Doherty scoring the decisive goal.
There was heartache for Todd's former club however as Queen's lost 1-0 on penalties to Muckross following a 1-1 draw in the promotion-relegation play-off to decide the remaining place in next season's IHL.
The students were on top for most of the match but had only Jessica McMaster's goal to show for their efforts at half time as they squandered nine penalty corners due to an ineffective routine.
Emma Matthews equalised two minutes after the restart after a defensive mix-up and Muckross prevailed in the shootout, meaning they stay up, leaving Ulster with just Pegasus and Belfast Harlequins in the top flight next season.
EY Irish Hockey League: semi-finals: Pegasus 2 (L McKee, T Doherty) Cork Harlequins 1 (J O'Halloran); Loreto 2 UCD 1; final: Pegasus 1 (A Speers) Loreto 1 (S O'Brien); Pegasus won shootout 4-2; promotion-relegation play-off: Queen's 1 (J McMaster) Muckross 1 (E Matthews) Muckross won shootout 1-0
Men's final: Lisnagarvey 0 Three Rock Rovers 2; semi-finals: Lisnagarvey 6 Glenanne 0; Banbridge 2 Three Rock 4.