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Defending OUA champions struggle to spark offence in 1-1 tie

Photo: Marta Kierkus

Last season, the Gee-Gees women’s soccer team lost to, University of Ontario Institute of Technology in their first game of the year, something that would not happen again until the national semifinals.

This season, the Queen’s Gaels came to Matt Anthony Field and instead of a loss they handed the Gees a motivating 1-1 tie, arguably the next scariest thing. Last year, the team ripped off 15 straight wins after their flat-footed opener. With some adjustments, this season can still be on path to live up to the tour de force of 2014.

The Gee-Gees heavily relied on their stars to carry them through the grinder of a game. Julia Francki had the lone goal for the garnet and grey, while forward Pilar Khoury and goalkeeper Cynthia Leblanc kept the game in check.

Francki’s goal came in the 12’ after deflecting a kick from the Queen’s keeper with her chest causing the ball to bounce into the net. The team held the lead for a while, giving the Gaels few opportunities, until a mess of bodies in front of the Ottawa net in the second half resulted in a Queen’s goal.

The Gee-Gees were playing somewhat hobbled, with multiple injuries stemming from last year’s lengthy playoff run. Talent still exists in this Gee-Gees squad, but it’ll take time for this year’s team to click.

“I think it was a lot better than last year’s first game,” said Francki. “We have some new starters and we lost a bunch of key players but I think it was a great start. Throughout the next week we’ll practice and improve.”

Gee-Gees head coach Steve Johnson, entering his 21st year at the helm of the team, was not as happy with the result.

“It was not really great soccer,” said Johnson. “Both teams didn’t want to lose their first game of the year. The teams tried to play really safe and I think there were a lot of mistakes because people were not getting their head up and choosing the right option.”

The evaluation and experimentation will continue in practice for the team over the coming weeks as they get slightly less stiff competition on the schedule.

The Gees will be back out on Matt Anthony Field on Sept. 5 and 6 as they take on Nipissing and Laurentian in the weekend series.