Women’s soccer finishes season on podium

Gaels finish third in the OUA, miss out on national championships

Gaels players posing with their bronze medals.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by UOIT Athletics

The women’s soccer team wrapped up their season with a hard-fought bronze medal on Nov. 5 at the OUA Championships in Oshawa. 

The Gaels came into the four-team playoff riding a high. They beat the University of Ottawa 2-1 — 5-4 on penalty kicks — in the OUA quarterfinals on Oct. 29 to make the final four. 

Matched up against the Western Mustangs in the OUA semi-finals, Queen’s and their rivals from London couldn’t find a winner in the opening 90 minutes and went to overtime with a U Sports National Championship and OUA Championship final berth on the line.  

Unfortunately, the Gaels were unsuccessful in overtime. 

Another shootout wouldn’t be needed, as Western’s Jenna White scored a header in the 94th minute. The goal put the Mustangs ahead 1-0 — and that’s the way it would finish, effectively eliminating the Gaels from contention in the gold medal game. 

Considering the team’s strong performance throughout the game, head coach Dave McDowell said he was left frustrated with the final score line. 

Speaking about the result, McDowell mentioned the coaching staff had discussed the possibility of a set piece deciding the match right before Western scored. 

“It was just one of those games,” he said. He added that defending the set piece was something the team was prepared for, but they simply had a lapse in mental judgement in the moment. 

Faced with the difficult task of preparing for the bronze-medal match the next day, McDowell noted how he was impressed with his players’ resolve in rebounding from their semi-final loss. He said their recovery was helped by the following team dinner they enjoyed at defender Savannah Meyer-Clement’s home in Oshawa.

Matched up against the host UOIT Ridgebacks, the Gaels bounced back with a commanding 3-0 victory to grab themselves a bronze medal.  

Despite UOIT’s performance not being to the standard to which they typically play — the Ridgebacks defeated the Gaels 1-0 in the 2016 OUA gold medal game — McDowell said his team’s play was impressive nonetheless.

“It was a really good team effort,” McDowell said of the victory. “We had good contributions from everybody on the team.” Lidia Bradau, Matija Skoko and Alexandra Doane all scored in quick succession after the half to put the match and bronze medal beyond the Ridgebacks’ reach. 

According to the coach, this year’s women’s team — who finished with an overall 14-4-1 record — was one of the most impressive groups to represent Queen’s in recent history. Comparing them to last season’s team which qualified for the U Sports National Championships, McDowell said the 2017-18 Gaels were unique. 

“From our perspective, this was a more complete team,” he said. He added the team’s well-roundedness could be credited to his players’ pride in playing for Queen’s. 

“It’s a very interesting dynamic with these fourth and fifth-year players and these emerging first-year players,” McDowell said. The Gaels experienced a considerable turnover in the off-season, which was highlighted by having six first-year student athletes feature in the OUA tournament.

“This year was particularly good [and] the first years were fantastic … they bought into the culture.”

The influx of new players, coupled with the strong guidance they’ve received from the team’s veterans, has the head coach excited for the coming season.  

“We’re looking forward to what these young [players] can do in the next little bit,” he said.  

 

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