CIS

Gee-Gees soccer is stronger than it’s ever been, and here’s why

Photo courtesy of Jen Elliott

The Gee-Gees women’s soccer team is perched atop the nation in an elite class of perennial contenders. This season, the team will attempt to improve upon its success in recent years by making a push to finally bringing back a national championship to the University of Ottawa.

Last season, the team post- ed an astonishing 15-1 record in the regular season resulting in the team being ranked within the top three in the nation for seven weeks. The team clinched an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship en route to an appearance in the national championship tournament. Ultimately the team would capture Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) bronze in one of the most successful campaigns in the team’s his- tory.

Although winning bronze and finishing the season on a positive note is rewarding, the bittersweet taste of the ultimate reward being so close, still lingers.

With a star-studded cast of experienced veterans mixed with young talent, the sky’s the limit for the 2015 Gee- Gees squad.

The team boasts multiple decorated stars returning for their final year of eligibility. Striker Pilar Khoury, the OUA”s most valuable player this past season and first team All-Canadian joins second team All-Canadian goalkeeper Cynthia Leblanc and three- time OUA all-star and former MVP Julia Francki.

As for young talent, third- year forward Faythe Lou will likely add to her eight goals from last season, and contribute along with second- year players like midfielder Katherine Bearne. The Gee-Gees added two star recruits, goalkeeper Rosalie Bouchard- Guérin who could step into Leblanc’s role in the future and Thea Nour, who has had comparisons drawn to Khoury. With these fresh legs in the Gees’ line up, they are primed to be one of the deepest teams once again this year.

The Gee-Gees are monoliths in the OUA’s east division this season and they should see very little competition. Two meetings with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks will prove difficult, as they were the only team to hand the Gees a loss last regular season.

In mid-June the Gees hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers in an exhibition. The Huskers came away with a 4-1 victory but it was a valuable experience to gauge the team’s younger talent against a high-level division one squad.

“I’m happy that we accepted the game,” head coach Steve Johnson told U of O Sports Services after the match. “I was concerned that coming together for one game when (Nebraska) had seven and training would not be a good experience but it was. We learned a lot about ourselves and saw a lot of positives going forward into the fall.”

The Gee-Gees have the luxury of opening their sea- son with a four game home stand. The team will host the Queen’s Gaels in their home opener on August 29.