Women’s soccer team claims third in Canada
THE GARNET AND Grey took a road trip to Montreal to compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champion- ships last weekend at Percival Molson Stadium. With their spirits high and a regular season record of 12-1-3, the women’s soccer team was one of the top contenders for a medal—and they didn’t disappoint. After winning their opening game on Thursday, losing valiantly on Saturday, and winning again on Sunday, the Gee-Gees were able to stand on the podium proud of winning a bronze medal.
On Nov. 10, the Garnet and Grey opened the CIS championships with a win against the Dalhousie University Tigers (9-1-3 regular season). The first half went into a midfield battle, with the ball bouncing between each team. Dalhousie managed to take a quick shot past first-year goalten- der Cynthia Leblanc from inside the box, scoring the first goal against the Gees.
“Dalhousie was able to play a style that suited the field conditions better than us,” explained head coach Steve Johnson. “Also, you have to remember that Dalhousie was [Atlantic University Sport] conference champions, and we are the seventh-seeded team in the tournament.”
The Gees returned in the second half with a vengeance, tying up the score in the 47th minute thanks to a give-and- go by first-year striker Pilar Khoury and third-year striker Krista Draycott. A minute later, Draycott received a long pass from third-year midfielder Corina Jarrett past the Tiger’s defence, striking the ball in the net for the lead.
The U of O continued on the offen- sive, not allowing Dalhousie to dominate the play. Jarrett made the final goal after blasting past the Dalhousie goalkeeper in the 53rd minute of play. Dalhousie was able to score on a free kick, but it wasn’t enough to take back the game. The Gees won the game with a 3-2 score.
Johnson couldn’t explain the huge comeback by the Gees as anything special, simply stating that at halftime they realized they had the potential to win and all they had to do was keep their heads held high.
“We reminded the team that they just needed to relax and show more compo- sure on the field,” he said.
The aggressive nature of the game was evident as Ontario University Athletics top scorer and second-year Gees striker Elisabeth Wong suffered an injury at the end of the first half that landed her on the bench for the remainder of the championships.
Short on shootout
Balls were flying during the CIS semifi- nal matchup against last year’s CIS cham- pions, the Queen’s Golden Gaels (13-2-1), where the Gees suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss after double overtime and a pen- alty shootout.
“I think, to be honest, we did terrific against last year’s champion. We took them to extra time and penalties,” said Johnson of the game.
The entire game saw aggressive play, with each team struggling to maintain dominance over the ball. The action was continuous, and resulted in an alternat- ing game of monkey in the middle with each team using the field to their advan- tage. After many great saves by Leblanc, the game went into an uneventful double overtime.
The Gees owed the close game to their defensive line, which ensured the Golden Gaels couldn’t get too close to the net.
“We had a lot of chances and we just couldn’t get them in and that’s what it all comes down to—the one or two chances in the game,” said fourth-year defence Gillian Baggott. “It’s a collective effort starting from the forwards defensively; we stayed tight, we stayed calm and com- posed, and we just shut them down … It was just an unlucky loss for us.”
The shootout saw the Golden Gaels win 3-2, taking them to the CIS gold med- al game while the Gees would battle it out for bronze with the McGill Martlets.
“I actually love doing shootouts, but hate the fact that it determines who wins,” said Leblanc in an email to the Fulcrum. “For me, it is not a way to find out who’s really the better team—it is just a matter of luck.”
Maintaining the lead to bronze
The stakes were high on Nov. 13 when the Garnet and Grey took the field along with the McGill University Martlets (8- 3-3) for the bronze medal match. After a rough 90 minutes, the Gees came out victorious with a 2-1 win over the home team, gaining a medal and the prestige of ranking third in the country.
“We are really happy with our win and the bronze medal,” explained John- son. “We get to end our season with a win and keep fond memories of our last game of the season.”
The first 10 minutes of the game saw the Gees and Martlets pick up speed. Ot- tawa striker Khoury was able to break through McGill’s defensive line and shoot one past the goalie for a 1-0 lead. Third-year striker Christine Hardie con- tinued the Gees’ scoring streak with a tap into the net off a cross-pass by fourth- year midfielder Brittany Harrison, bring- ing the score to 2-0.
“Both performances on Saturday and Sunday were very good and the only dif- ference was the result,” said Johnson. “We were able to finish our best shoot- ing chances from inside the box in the bronze-medal game, and that resulted in our two goals.”
The second half witnessed many scor- ing attempts by both McGill and the U of O, but Leblanc was able to make some diving catches that resulted in a win for the Garnet and Grey.
While the soccer season may be over, Johnson explained the team has lots of work to do off the field and won’t be get- ting a vacation any time soon.
“We are going to get together in the library and the players will study for their midterms and end of year finals,” said Johnson. “And in addition to that, we might celebrate with a meal as my wife has offered to host a dinner for the team.”
Queen’s University won the CIS Championship in the final matchup against University of Montreal Carabins for the second year in a row.