Gaels look ahead to Final Four

Women’s soccer team looking to take gold this weekend at the OUA Final Four tournament in Toronto

The women’s soccer team celebrates striker Renée MacLellan’s (#14) 11th goal of the season during Queen’s 5-0 win over the Royal Military College Paladins on Oct. 21 at Richardson Stadium.
The women’s soccer team celebrates striker Renée MacLellan’s (#14) 11th goal of the season during Queen’s 5-0 win over the Royal Military College Paladins on Oct. 21 at Richardson Stadium.

After a stellar 13-1-2 regular season, a third-place national ranking and a 3-1 quarter-final victory last week over the Carleton Ravens, the women’s soccer team will look to cap off their season on a high note this weekend as they head to the OUA Final Four, hosted by the York Lions in Toronto.

The Gaels will face the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks, ranked 10th in the CIS, in one semifinal on Saturday. The other semifinal features sixth-ranked York against the seventh-ranked University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.

The Golden Hawks played in the OUA West during the regular season, so Queen’s hasn’t played them this year. Head coach Dave McDowell said he’s expecting a tough game.

“I think they’re a very good team,” McDowell said. “We know a little bit about them but the West is something we haven’t seen at all, so we’re prepping as well as we can based on the advanced information we have.”

McDowell said there’s always a feeling-out process when playing a team you’ve never seen before.

“I think if you watch them on tape it looks slower than it is, or it can give you false impressions,” he said. “Really until you’ve seen them play you’re never too sure what you’re going to get, but we’ll do our best to give the [team] some idea what to expect and if we need to adjust, we need to adjust.”

With last week’s win, McDowell was pleased that the team has some playoff experience from which build off of.

“I thought perhaps we looked a little tentative in the first half against Carleton, maybe a little bit nervous,” he said. “For a lot of those players it was their first quarter-final. For us, getting into it as quickly as we can and establishing our style of play will be very important.”

Allowing goals in only three of their 16 regular season contents, McDowell said the team will continue to play a strong defensive game this weekend.

“I think we’ve been very strong defensively, so that’s something that’s very nice to fall back on,” he said. “We’ve gotten good goaltending, our back four have been terrific and for the most part our team defense has been very good.”

Queen’s also received several accolades this week as the OUA East announced the season’s award recipients. Striker Renée MacLellan was named the most valuable player, rookie midfielder Riley Filion was named the T. Litzen Sports rookie of the year and McDowell earned the OUA East coach of the year honours. In addition, defender Brienna Shaw, MacLellan and Filion were named first-team all-stars and defender Victoria Gonzalez-Milroy was named a second-team all-star. The Gaels’ strong finish also earned them OUA Team of the Month honours for October.

McDowell was humble and quickly credited the entire squad for his award.

“Coaching awards are always reflections of the team and the coaching staff around you,” he said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled for Riley or Renée for those awards and Brienna and Victoria being part of the all-star teams.”

Heading into the weekend, McDowell said he’s very proud of the team’s season up to this point.

“I think it’s a reflection of what everyone on the team has brought to training, games and our season. Without that team concept, I don’t think any of it would be possible. They have been a terrific group to work with.”

The Gaels will look to advance to the OUA Finals when they take on the Golden Hawks tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in Toronto.

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