Strong start for soccer

Men and women open season with a tie and a win

The Golden Gaels varsity soccer teams began their seasons auspiciously this past weekend. Both the men’s and women’s teams traveled to Ottawa on Saturday for their regular season openers against the talented Gee Gee’s, then returned to Richardson Stadium to meet Trent on Sunday afternoon.

The men’s team battled Ottawa to a 1-1 draw thanks to a goal by Jared King. Luke Corey, one of the Gaels’ three captains, said his team found it difficult to play on the artificial turf in Ottawa.

“On the turf, the balls are really fast, and it made it hard to play our style,” Corey said.

Jeremy Armstrong, the Gaels’ rookie head coach, agreed the turf was an unusual surface, but claimed this was not the factor that cost his team the win.

“The turf was different, but we beat ourselves,” he said. “We just need to keep our focus.” The men returned to Kingston to meet the Trent Excalibur on Sunday and recorded an impressive 3-0 win. Trent had an excellent breakaway chance in the 12th minute, but shot it high, and after that the Gaels took over.

Luke Corey opened the scoring in the 19th minute and rookie Brent Lukowski doubled their lead some five minutes later. Queen’s continued to apply pressure in waves, generating several good scoring chances in the next few minutes, but Trent goalkeeper Jamie Muckle made some acrobatic saves to keep the score 2-0 at the half.

Corey scored his second goal of the game on a penalty kick in the 76th minute to seal the victory. Trent came close in the dying seconds, but the Gaels played strong defensively to preserve the shutout.

Afterwards, the Gaels didn’t feel they had played as well as they were capable of playing, but are extremely confident and excited about the season ahead.

“We didn’t play our best, but that will come with experience, and we will get better and better,” Corey said. “The season looks bright. We have hopes for a national championship.” Coach Armstrong, who played four years of soccer at Queen’s from 2000 to 2003, echoed Corey’s sentiments.

“This is the best team I’ve been a part of at Queen’s. We’re a control and possession team, but we want to be an aggressive offensive team as well,” Armstrong said. “Our confidence is really high; we have high hopes. The only people who can get in our way are ourselves.” The women’s team also looked very confident as their season began. On Saturday they battled Ottawa—a main rival—to a scoreless draw in front of a large crowd.

The game was again played on the very different artificial surface in strong wind. As much as they would have liked to earn a win in their opener, the team was still pleased with the effort.

“It was a good start, which was what we wanted,” said Zoe Dyer, one of the Queen’s defenders. “It was a tough game, but a good one.” The Gaels then relieved their frustration at being shut out on Saturday by the defending national silver medalists, registering a dominant 7-0 win against the Trent Excalibur on Sunday. They had chances from the opening seconds onward and pressured the Excalibur until second-year standout Eilish McConville scored the first goal on a breakaway less than six minutes in.

About six minutes after that, Sarah Barradas doubled their lead on a header that was mishandled by the Trent goalkeeper. The Gaels continued to get numerous chances, and Barradas and McConville added another goal each before sitting out the rest of the game.

Ashley Barrett scored the final goal of the first half, making it 5-0. Queen’s dominated the second half as well, adding goals by Maia Lawson—who also hit the post—and Alex Stephen.

From the early moments of the game, it was apparent that the speed of the Gaels would be too much for Trent to handle. The Gaels scored a couple of breakaway goals and created numerous other chances stretching the defense with their quickness.

“We have good speed, we’re pretty quick, and that’s a great asset,” said head coach Dave McDowell. “It was a good game. We scored some very nice goals, and we got to rest some players, which is always nice.” Despite the impressive result and the confidence of the team, Dyer was quick to point out that they can be better.

“We have a lot of work to do, but it was a good start,” she said.

Both teams are extremely talented and exciting, and the weekend’s games showed that the optimism expressed by both squads is well founded. Both the men’s and women’s teams are on the road in Waterloo this weekend, before playing at RMC on Sept. 26. Their next home games are much-anticipated rematches with Ottawa on Oct. 2.

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