Kayla Kyle, Kat Delev and Cassandra Provost were named U SPORTS Championship All-Stars. Image: Gee-Gees women's soccer/Provided.
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After a hard-fought season, the Gees successfully defeated the Cape Breton Capers to win a bronze medal at the 2022 U Sports Women’s Soccer National Championships.

Unfortunately, the Gees were not able to play for the gold, as they lost on penalties to the eventual champions, the Montreal Carabins, who beat hosts, the Laval Rouge et Or. So, the argument can be made that the Gees were, in fact, the second-best team in this competition.

But enough about semantics — let’s look at how the team got to their bronze medal game.

The Gee-Gees came in ranked third. That means their first match of the tournament was against the sixth-ranked Trinity Western in this eight-team tournament. Trinity Western, out of Langley, British Columbia, finished runners-up in Canada West to the number one ranked team in the nation, the University of British Columbia, so it was expected to be a good matchup for the Gees. 

The match was tightly contested, but at the 79 minute mark, Soumaya Bouak assisted Cassandra Provost, who finished in the bottom right corner from a low strike with her left foot. This would hold up as the winner. This meant the Gees would face the Carabins or the Dinos of Calgary University — it proved to be the former.

The Carabins won their match after scoring early from Mégane Sauvé, one of the best university players in the country. They defended the lead valiantly to see out the game.

The semi-final matchup between the Carabins and the Gee-Gees proved to be the match of the tournament — a battle of tactical identities and team philosophies, one could say. Montreal’s philosophy is to play simple and efficient. Meanwhile, we know the University of Ottawa can be skillful and dynamic in their style of play.

On a surprising note, Montreal resorted to an old tactic that is a lost art in the modern game of soccer: the use of a sweeper. A sweeper is a defender that drops far behind the rest of the defensive to ‘sweep’ up through balls and be the last defender when all else fails. 

Montreal’s tactic didn’t seem to work early, though, as Angelina Gendreau combined with Provost to open the scoring.

In the second half, it was Montreal’s turn to turn on the style when Sauvé thrashed an audacious effort from outside the box, and it swerved into the near post with such power that Cassidy Joslin had no chance to block it.

The sweeper strategy and Montreal’s defence as a whole caused trouble for the Gees throughout the game. However, eight minutes after Montreal equalized, a flash of brilliance occurred when Olivia Allen used her pace and finesse to dribble through six Carabin defenders, and was brought down for a penalty which she promptly converted.

Unfortunately for the Gees, that would not stand as the winner. An awkward bounce that eluded the usually sure-handed Joslin found its way into the back of the net. This equalizer would be the last goal in regulation, as the match would proceed into extra time and, subsequently, penalties.

Montreal won the coin toss and elected to shoot first, which is a statistical advantage in soccer when it comes time for penalty kicks, so it was not looking good for the Gees, who were still a bit shaken from conceding earlier on.

Montreal keeper Catherine Langelier had the penalty shootout keepers dream of, saving three of the Gee-Gees kicks. Joslin managed to make a brilliant save of her own, but it was not enough, and the Gees’ hopes of playing for a U Sports gold were dissolved.

Although the Gees went out in heartbreaking fashion, they still had a medal to play for. The amount of mental fortitude it took for the team to get back up after such a tough outcome was commendable.

In the bronze medal match, the U of O took on the Cape Breton Capers, who lost their semi-final against the hosts, the Rouge et Or.

Early in the match, it seemed like the Gees’ fortunes went from bad to worse as Provost was through on goal but ended up colliding with the keeper and landing hard on her shoulder. There was a long pause in the match, and you could see that Provost was in a great deal of pain when the team’s athletic therapists checked on her. 

Provost returned to the field of play still favouring her left shoulder. It seemed like she was trying to help the team secure the medal at any cost, even if it meant playing through significant pain. 

Before the halftime interval, Soumaya Bouak went on one of her skillful runs, which rival teams became used to seeing in this tournament and squared it into Provost, who finished in close. When Bouak went to celebrate with the goalscorer, though, it appeared that Provost actually was telling her teammates not to embrace her as it may further aggravate her injury. 

It just goes to show how physically demanding it is to play three matches in only a four-day time frame, when you usually need three to four days to fully recover from playing 90 minutes of soccer. It speaks to her character and sacrifice for her teammates.

The Gees would see out the match and receive their well-earned medal. The whole team was very deserving of their final place at Nationals, and the squad should be really proud of what they have achieved as a whole this season.

Playing on the largest stage calls for your best players to rise to the occasion, and throughout the weekend, that was evident from players like Cassandra Provost, Olivia Allen, Trinity Esprit, Kat Delev, Kayla Kyle, and Maya Smith. However, throughout the tournament, there was one constant spark in the midfield with her creative intelligence, and that was Soumaya Bouak.

Bouak was named joint player of the game in the match against the Carabins.

Monday evening, the team announced that Kayla Kyle, Kat Delev and Cassandra Provost were named U SPORTS Championship All-Stars.