Soccer boots it to semifinals

Men and women both one win away from a trip to nationals

The Queen’s men’s and women’s soccer teams battled drenching rain and tough opposition at Richardson Stadium on Saturday but both came through their quarter-final matches still standing and emboldened going into this weekend’s OUA Final Fours.

The men’s squad, seeded first in the OUA East, took on the fifth-seeded Trent Excalibur.

Amid the muddy conditions, Queen’s opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a goal from midfielder Steve Irish. Matt Hulse added to the Gaels’ lead only a minute later. Queen’s kept up the pressure in the second half, with co-captain Alex Makin increasing the lead in the 54th minute.

Rick Paudyn added a fourth goal for the Gaels with less than 20 minutes to go.

The Excalibur added a single goal of their own, resulting in a 4-1 final in favour of the Gaels.

“We were very pleased with the outcome, especially considering the adverse weather conditions. The field really was drenched at the start of the game, and there were standing pools of water,” head coach Al McVicar said.

Fourth-year midfielder and Gaels’ co-captain Jared King said “I think we really are peaking right now, which is the right time, because it’s the playoffs.

“The mud and the rain took away a bit from our style, but we still handled that adversity really well.” Next week the men’s squad, currently ranked ninth in the nation, will travel to Brock University for the OUA Final Four. They take on the Western Mustangs in the OUA semi-finals on Saturday and, if successful, will play the winner of the Brock-Toronto game in the OUA final on Sunday.

The team needs to defeat Brock to qualify for the national championships later this year.

The women’s team, currently ranked third in the country, took to the following the men to face the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The massive amounts of mud on the pitch turned the game into a midfield battle with both sides struggling to maintain possession.

“It wasn’t a day for artistic or pleasant soccer,” head coach Dave McDowell said. “Soccer purists wouldn’t be happy, but that’s what the pitch dictated,” Carrie Knoll opened the scoring in the 32nd minute and Eilish McConville added an insurance goal with four minutes left to give the Gaels a 2-0 victory.

Katie McKenna recorded the shutout for the Gaels.

McConville, who was last week named CIS Athlete of the Week for the second time this year, said the game was a hard-fought affair.

“It was a battle the whole way through.”

McDowell said the injuries the team had sustained had restricted the Gaels’ preparation for the Blues.

“It’s very hard to prepare when you have so few players available.” But he felt the Gaels’ strategy of focusing on wing attacks paid off well during the match.

The women’s squad will host the OUA Final Four next weekend, playing Western on Saturday in the semi-finals.

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