McConville strikes for four

Women win 5-3; men draw 0-0

The Gaels manoeuvered to a 5-3 win over the Trent Excalibur.
The Gaels manoeuvered to a 5-3 win over the Trent Excalibur.

The Queen’s Golden Gaels women’s soccer team defeated the Trent Excalibur 5-3 in their home opener on Friday night, on the strength of a dominant four-goal performance from fourth-year striker Eilish McConville.

The Gaels controlled the ball early, but were unable to convert their chances at first. In the 30th minute, the deadlock was finally broken when a cross in from the left flank found 2003 CIS rookie of the year McConville, open near the top of Trent’s six yard box. McConville finished clinically, flicking the ball over Excalibur goalkeeper Sarah Asbreuk into the open net.

Throughout the game, Trent was relying on a strategy of rapid counterattacks, and it paid off for them in the 41st minute. Trent’s Amy Roy slipped in behind the Gaels’ defence, received a pass and broke in alone on Queen’s goalkeeper Katie McKenna. McKenna made a fine save, but Roy was able to collect her own rebound and drill it into the open net from 20 yards to tie the score. The Gaels made a strong effort to regain the lead before halftime. They had several more chances but the match remained tied at one all at the half.

The Gaels maintained their offensive pressure right from the start of the second half. In the 57th minute, McConville executed a brilliant give-and-go passing play with striker Renee MacLellan, and broke in alone on goal. Asbreuk came up with another big save, but McConville was able to volley her own rebound into the net for her second goal of the game.

Queen’s continued to control the flow of play, creating countless offensive chances. In the 74th minute, Queen’s was again able to capitalize. Laura Barker passed to McConville, who deked the keeper and fired the ball into the empty net to complete her hat trick.

Trent refused to give up and kept attempting quick counterattacks. In the 77th minute, Roy was able to put a pass in behind the Gaels’ defenders for Henry, who drilled the ball into the open goal, reducing the deficit to 3-2.

With their lead cut to one, the Gaels began once again to aggressively drive forward, searching for an insurance goal. They were soon rewarded when Caitlin Lambert and Brynessa Gradley combined to set up McConville, who was pulled down inside the 18-yard box, earning a penalty kick. McConville confidently stepped up to the spot, and executed a perfect penalty for her fourth goal of the match. For further insurance, Maclellan was able to connect with a Pentesco cross in the 87th minute, launching the ball into the Excalibur net to make the score 5-2. However, Trent was able to pull one back in the dying moments of the game, as Hannah Koslowsky latched onto a long throw-in from MacIsaac, and drove it into the net from 12 yards out.

After the game, Gaels’ coach Dave McDowell said the team had played very well but that they needed “to be more consistent with finishing.” McDowell was impressed with the amount of quality chances that the Gaels were able to create, but thought that they had suffered “some real defensive breakdowns in the second half.” However, he was full of praise for the team’s efforts, particularly that of McConville. McConville also gave her teammates full credit for what she described as a “total team performance,” and felt that they had done well to keep composed.

Earlier Friday, the men’s team also played their home opener against the Excalibur’s men’s squad. Both teams began with a high-tempo attacking game and had chances early on, but Trent soon withdrew into a more defensive posture. Chris Gencarelli and Brent Lukowski combined for many opportunities for the Gaels in the early going. The Gaels created a quality chance in the 28th minute when midfielder Steve Irish sent a free kick into the box for Lukowski, but he put the ball over the crossbar.

Queen’s began the second half strong, with midfielder Nick Milonas providing an excellent corner kick for Lukowski, but a Trent player intercepted the play and brought the ball into the Gaels’ end. His teammate slipped behind the Queen’s defence, and Alex Makin brought him down. Makin was shown the red card and Queen’s was reduced to 10 men. Despite their numbers, the Gaels still held the majority of possession in the second half, creating numerous chances as Trent continued to play a defensive game despite their manpower advantage. The best chance of the match came when Lukowski was taken down in the Excalibur box in the 56th minute, earning a penalty shot for Queen’s. But Trent goalkeeper Jamie Muckle made an outstanding save.

The match ended as a 0-0 draw. After the game, Gaels’ second-year midfielder Michael Zanetti said the team had “played hard once they were down to 10 men.”

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