Gael soccer season set to kick off

Old Four tune-up tournament for men and women

Soccer teams psyched to sacrifice their bodies in the upcoming season.
Soccer teams psyched to sacrifice their bodies in the upcoming season.

Both the men’s and women’s Queen’s soccer teams brought their preseasons to a close last weekend with the Old Four tournament at Richardson Stadium. The Gaels played host to McGill, Western and Toronto, and while neither team finished in the top half, their games boasted some strong performances and good signs for the upcoming seasons.

The women’s team finished fourth in their draw, losing 2-1 on penalty kicks to McGill on Saturday and 2-0 to Toronto on Sunday. The loss to Toronto was a surprise, as in the past they were easily dispatched by the Gaels.

“We weren’t mentally prepared for that game,” Heather Campbell, a third-year returnee, said. “We expected to win, but they have a new coach and were much better.” The lack of offensive production by the Gaels was surprising, but in all likelihood impermanent, for as Campbell noted, goal-scoring was abundant in the team’s training camp and preseason.

Highlights from their early games included an 8-1 victory over the University of Montreal and a 7-0 trouncing of New York’s St. Lawrence University.

“We scored a lot in camp,” Campbell noted. “There were a lot of people putting the ball in the net. We weren’t just relying on one person, on Eilish.”

Eilish McConville, last season’s rookie sensation, was the Gaels’ lone scorer in the tournament’s regulation time. She was named Rookie of the Year by both the CIS and the OUA East-South division, and also earned berths on the CIS and OUA East-South All-Star teams.

Led by McConville, whom Campbell named as the team’s player to watch, this group is already training hard for the challenges presented to them by last year’s post-season.

The team won the OUA silver medal after finishing first in the regular season with an 8-0-2 record last year. They defeated Carleton and Wilfrid Laurier on their way to the final, where they lost to their arch-rivals, the Ottawa Gee-Gees, in severely inclement weather. They also went 0-1-1 in CIS Championship play, tying McGill and losing again to Ottawa.

This year, they already have their eyes on the prize.

“We’re already training on an indoors pitch, because the finals will be in Montreal, hosted by the University of Montreal, and they have artificial turf,” Campbell said.

She picked their games against Western and Ottawa as the ones to watch.

“Western is now in our division, and that’s new,” she said. “They’re one of our top rivals, along with Ottawa.”

The men’s team had more success than their female counterparts at the Old Four tournament, getting offensive contributions from several sources in both games. Kevin Thompson, Luke Gencarelli and veteran Luke Corey all scored in a 4-3 loss to McGill. Steve Frijh and Gencarelli scored on Sunday when they defeated Toronto 2-0 to capture the bronze medal.

Both teams will travel to Ottawa on Saturday to open their seasons in grand style against the GeeGees.

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