Late goal spoils homestand

Women’s soccer secures fourth in OUA East with four points

Gaels’ midfielder Erin Smith slides to clear the ball against Ryerson’s Susanne Briggs Saturday.
Gaels’ midfielder Erin Smith slides to clear the ball against Ryerson’s Susanne Briggs Saturday.
Ryerson’s Andrea Raso battles Queen’s Taylore Shaw for the ball in Saturday’s game.
Ryerson’s Andrea Raso battles Queen’s Taylore Shaw for the ball in Saturday’s game.

Four out of six isn’t bad. That sentiment was prevalent among the women’s soccer team after a late goal Sunday cast a pall over their final homestand of the regular season. Queen’s recorded an impressive 2-1 victory over the Ryerson Rams Saturday and looked set to finish the season off in style after a goal from Renee Maclellan gave them a 1-0 lead Sunday, but the University of Toronto Varsity Blues spoiled the party when Mel Seabra fired a rebound home in the 77th minute to give the Blues the tie.

Still, the draw was enough to clinch fourth place in the OUA East and a home playoff game for the Gaels. Defender Katie Dalziel said she thought the team had nothing to be ashamed of.

“I think we played really well this game,” she said. “Obviously, we would have liked to have won, but we played really well. We’re making really good progress going to the playoffs.”

It was the last regular-season game at home for Dalziel and three of her veteran teammates: midfielder Jenn Pentesco, goalkeeper Kate McKenna and Maclellan. They were honoured in a special pre-game ceremony.

Dalziel said the final game was bittersweet, but she’s looking forward to the team’s home playoff match on Wednesday.

“It’s kind of sad,” she said. “I’m never going to play another regular-season game here, but thankfully we have Wednesday’s playoff game here. I’ve spent four years of my life here playing at this stadium, so it’s sad, but everything’s going to come to an end. I had a great time in the four years I did play.”

The Gaels’ weekend got off to a slow start Saturday against Ryerson. Defender Sara Buckham was taken down in the Rams’ box midway through the first half, but her penalty shot was stopped by Ryerson goalkeeper Misha Mairc. The Rams then built on that momentum, and Tessa Dimitrakopoulos scored for them only minutes later. The Gaels bounced back after the halftime break, though, and two goals from striker Kelli Chamberlain gave them the victory.

Head coach Dave McDowell said the comeback provided a good challenge for his team and showed what they’re capable of.

“It’s nice to see the girls have a little bit of a gut-check,” he said. “It was just one of those games where you see what happens and which team makes their chances and takes their chances.”

Sunday’s results mean the Gaels will host the Nipissing Lakers Wednesday, a team that beat them 3-2 in their only encounter this season.

McDowell said the Gaels are eager to get revenge.

“With Nipissing, there’s a feeling of some unfinished business,” he said. “After seriously outplaying them down there, to drop three points probably put us in this position.”

McDowell said he was excited to see Chamberlain score two goals after she missed the previous week’s game due to injury.

“We’re always wondering where our goalscoring’s coming from, that’s always a question,” he said. “It’s nice for Kell to get back in after she missed the game last week, and that hurt us a little bit, so it’s nice for us to have her back.” Chamberlain said she was thrilled to get the victory Saturday.

“It was awesome,” she said. “It was really good to pull a win so we can get the three points from finishing a little higher.”

Chamberlain said the team’s improving as they build towards the playoffs.

“We’ve been talking a lot about nationals this past week, and I think that’s really inspiring everyone to play, it’s pushing us to play for nationals,” she said. “We have the chance, and we really want to get there, so I think that’s what made the difference this week.”

Buckham said the team’s continually getting better.

“From the beginning of the year, it’s just been a steady incline,” she said. “We’ve had a couple blips here and there, but I think we’re peaking at the right time of the season.”

The Gaels host the Nipissing Lakers Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Richardson Stadium.

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