Madison Tyrell’s match-winning save on Wednesday wasn’t the first tight situation she’s faced.
The third-year Gaels keeper has made 11 OUA playoff appearances — seven of which have gone to penalty kicks, with another one being won in extra time.
Tyrell has been front and centre during these moments, turning away opposing shooters to push Queen’s farther into the playoffs. Two days ago, she saved the decisive penalty kick in the Gaels’ 1-0 first-round playoff victory over the Carleton Ravens.
“It’s stressful at times, but sometimes I enjoy that situation in the way that I know that I can hopefully contribute in a result,” Tyrell said.
Performing in penalty shootouts is just a part of the game, she added — one where she can make her mark on the match.
“There’s just so many things that can happen in a penalty shootout when the girls have worked through overtime. When the games are so long and everyone’s so tired,” Tyrell said. “The shootout gives me a direct chance to influence the outcome.”
The ability to influence games has been a mainstay of her tenure at Queen’s. As a rookie in 2012, she was in net as the Gaels faced the McMaster Marauders in the OUA bronze medal match, with a berth to the CIS championships on the line.
Tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes, Tyrell made several key saves in the ensuing eight-round shootout, including a fingertip save to prolong her team’s season. The Gaels eventually prevailed, giving Tyrell her first-ever shootout victory at Queen’s.
While the Gaels eventually fell short in the CIS final — losing in penalties to the Trinity Western Spartans — Tyrell said the experience played a major role in her development as a keeper.
“The group of girls we went to nationals with were seasoned vets and had so much to teach us, the whole first-year class coming in,” she said. “That playoff run was so much fun, and there were so many lessons learned and experiences gained. It was more than I could ever ask for as a first-year heading into university.”
After the excitement of her initial season with the Gaels, Tyrell suffered several injuries over the course of 2013, limiting her to only 10 games last year.
“It seemed to be one unlucky injury after the next,” she said. “There was a lot of time to focus over the summer, just to really focus in on what I wanted to get from the season and how I could contribute.”
The injuries also sparked a continued desire to seize the opportunities given to her.
“A lot of it is not taking any game for granted or any opportunity,” she said. “Understanding an injury can happen at any time but when you get to be healthy enough to play, it’s really important that you appreciate that opportunity, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do this year.”
Tyrell started all 16 of the Gaels’ regular season games this year, allowing 12 goals and posting six clean sheets as Queen’s finished fourth in the OUA East.
The Gaels can play a maximum of six more games this season, starting with Sunday’s quarterfinal match against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. When the two teams faced off in the same situation last season, Tyrell was once again called upon to hold the line in a shootout.
She topped three of five Ottawa shots, as the Gaels moved on to the OUA Final Four.
While there’s no way to tell if penalties will be needed this year, Tyrell is certain of one thing.
“I just hope I can do the best I can on any given day,” she said. “Just staying healthy and staying focused and enjoying it. From last year, I’ve just been really focused on enjoying the play and enjoying the competitive atmosphere.”
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