Miranda Smith gets the winner, player of the game, as Garnet and Grey claim U Sports crown
This was it, the moment Gee-Gees soccer athletes, coaches, and fans had been waiting for all season. It was the gold medal match versus the Trinity Western Spartans of Langley, BC., on Nov. 11.
Trinity Western came into the U Sports championship tournament, hosted at Gee-Gees Field, ranked first in the nation, ahead of the until-then dominant Montreal Carabins.
The Gee-Gees entered the tournament ranked fourth in the nation, having only lost one match all season.
That streak would not end here, as they held on to claim the gold medal, 2-1 over the Spartans in their first national title since 1996.
“This whole year has been wonderful, this is a really nice group of girls,” Gee-Gees head coach Steve Johnson said following the win. “No egos. Nobody’s a super-star, yet everybody’s a super-star. So they’ve been very good as a team, probably one of the most together teams since 1996, and the results show for themselves on the field.”
The weather was frigid, but there was not much wind nor any snow causing issues for players on the field.
Before the game got underway, the University of Ottawa honoured Remembrance Day with a moment of silence. After that, the game got got started.
Trinity started with possession of the ball often, with their first real opportunity off a free kick, followed by two corners that were well-defended by U of O.
The Gees came back with a few shots of their own. In about the 17th minute of play, Mikayla Morton danced around a defender wide of the net and took a shot that slid between the goaltender Rachel Sydor’s legs, putting them up 1-0.
The Spartans got the equalizer in the 26th minute off a fantastic shot from Seina Kashima, making it 1-1. The Gees would take that into the dressing room, having been outshot 9-7 in the half.
In the second half, the Gees came back with a few good chances to close the shot gap.
This eventually paid off in the 65th minute, when the Gees’ Miranda Smith scored a laser from way out to give them the go-ahead goal.
This turned out to be the winner after some great defence from the Gees, and following three minutes of extra time after the 90-minute mark hit, the referee blew the whistle.
“Second half, I was just so happy, you know we had the advantage of a little bit more of the wind. We weathered their press in the first half, and responded with a fantastic last 45 minutes,” Johnson said.
In the ceremony afterwards, Smith was named player of the game following her huge second half goal. She also got the nod for top midfielder, in this, her last game as a Gee-Gee, while Emma Lefebvre, Katherine Bearne, and Margot Shore were also recognized in their respective positions.
“(Smith) has been our best player I think all year, maybe a little bit unrecognized, but she does such a great defensive job,” Johnson said. “I was so happy to see her get that goal.”
The victory puts the golden cherry on top of what was a near-flawless season. The Gee-Gees went 14-1-1 through regulation, beating every opponent they faced in the postseason on their way to the championship win.