Women’s soccer off to national semifinal

Win over St. Francis Xavier X-Women in quarterfinal yesterday sets up Gaels to achieve supremacy on a national level at CIS Championships in Toronto

Midfielder Jennifer Hutchinson tries to avoid a challenge during the Gaels 3-1 OUA quarter-final win over the Carleton Ravens on Oct. 31 at Tindall Field.
Midfielder Jennifer Hutchinson tries to avoid a challenge during the Gaels 3-1 OUA quarter-final win over the Carleton Ravens on Oct. 31 at Tindall Field.

Despite a heartbreaking loss on penalty kicks in the OUA Final against the York Lions last weekend, the women’s soccer team nevertheless earned a berth to conclude their season at the 2009 CIS Championships this weekend at the University of Toronto.

The eight-team single elimination tournament also features the CWUAA (Canada West Universities Athletics Association) and defending CIS champion Trinity Western Spartans, CWUAA finalist UBC Thunderbirds, QSSF (Quebec Student Sport Federation) champion Montreal Carabins, AUS (Atlantic University Sport) champion St. Francis Xavier X-Women, AUS finalist UPEI Panthers along with York University and host Toronto from the OUA.

Head coach Dave McDowell said the team would attempt to ride their strong finish to the season into the tournament.

“I think the girls are still feeling pretty confident,” he said. “We lost a tiebreaker in the championship game, so as far as the girls are concerned no one’s beaten us flat out since the first weekend of the season.”

McDowell said he wasn’t surprised with the entrants from the western or central Canada, but two lesser-known teams emerged from the AUS this year.

“I think the two teams we don’t know much about at the eastern teams, who are teams that finished a little bit further down the rankings and through some upsets in the playoffs made it in,” he said. “We’ve got some video of those teams and we’ll try to prepare as best as we can.”

Yesterday afternoon the Gaels topped the X-Women 1-0 in an overtime win, thanks to a goal from midfielder Cristina Senese. McDowell said before the game that it would be a new experience for his team.

“We’ve never seen them, we’ve never played them,” he said. “I’ve been coaching for 21 years and I’ve never seen them at anything, so this’ll be a first for us.”

McDowell said the team hadn’t played most teams at the championships, they would be focused on their own style of game.

“I think the girls know that in the end they just have to stamp their mark on the game and dictate the style of play,” he said. “We can prepare them all they want and talk about scouting all they want, but the one thing I don’t want them to be considering is to change what’s made them successful all year.”

Captain Sara Buckham said despite never seeing any of the teams before, she expects strong competition.

“It’s always difficult when you don’t know what you’re up against,” Buckham said. “At this point, we expect every other team to be at the same calibre as you. It really just comes down to what you’re willing to put out on the field that day in terms of passion and who’s willing to outwork the opponent.”

Queen’s play either second-ranked Trinity Western or UPEI in the semifinal tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in Toronto.

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