Women's soccer game
Cassandra Provost heads the ball off of a corner. Image: Bardia Boomer/Fulcrum.
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The University of Ottawa women’s soccer team took on Nipissing University on Sunday afternoon at Matt Anthony Field.

Nipissing was coming off a narrow 1-0 loss against Carleton University the day prior and was looking to get a positive result to keep pace with Toronto and Queen’s, who sit at the top of the table.

Nipissing started the match by employing a high line in the first ten minutes. Having established this early, they stuck with it as the game progressed. Their strategy was to prevent Ottawa’s top goal scorer, Cassandra Provost, from getting the space to maneuver in the final third of the field. The approach effectively limited the star striker’s output during the match.

However, in the eleventh minute of the match, Nipissing was caught out after Soumaya Bouak slid a through ball into Provost, who buried it at the near post, giving the Gees the lead. The goal was Provost’s sixth goal of the season, which leads the Ontario University Athletics (OUA).

In the twenty-fifth minute of the match, the Gee-Gees almost scored again after Maya Smith had a flick-on header from a free kick that narrowly missed wide.

The remainder of the first half saw the University of Ottawa dominate in the midfield, thanks to the double pivot of Katerine Delev and Katie Brzozowski. The pair won back possession multiple times and helped to provide creativity when the team went forward on the attack.

The problem was that the forwards did not take their chances, meaning the Gees went into the half up 1-0.

For the second half, the Gee-Gees swapped out their keepers, bringing in Cassidy Joslin for Juliann Lacasse after a relatively quiet half.

The second half was a scrappy affair. There were many calls and non-calls, which broke up the flow of the game. However, the Nipissing Lakers saw this opportunity and made the most of it, creating more chances in the second half. 

If it was not for the outstanding plays made by center-backs Kayla Kyle and Maya Smith, who were both imperial in the air, the Lakers might have found a breakthrough. However, the Gee’s backline held firm.

On the flip side, going forward in the second half, we saw flashes of brilliance from Provost with sheer strength and determination matched by her skills, along with Olivia Allen, who caused problems with her pace, continuously cutting in from the left and making opportunities. 

Although the U of O was creating opportunities, they did not produce many clear-cut chances at goal, which made it hard to add to their slim lead.

In the end, an early goal and solid defensive performance saw the team through to the win.

“We had to fight to the end because we were only one goal up, but I thought we played really well in the first half. The second half we were a little bit scrambly, but we managed to pull through the win,” Smith said.

When asked about how she viewed her standout defensive performance, she said, “I feel good. I feel a little bruised, but I felt like it was good.”

Good was an understatement, as she won headers in the opposing box, tackles, and stifled the high line Nipissing employed with long balls over the top.

When asked about what adjustments are to be made for the next match, Smith said, “I think to finish our chances we had a lot of chances, but we only managed to finish one next game we got to finish more of our chances.”

We will see if the Gee-Gees take their chances in their next match, which will be a test on the road against Ontario Tech Saturday, September 24.