Soccer finishes fourth in Canada

Women’s team picks up fourth-place at CIS nationals tournament in Toronto last weekend

The women’s soccer team brought their thrilling season to an end with a fourth-place finish last weekend at the CIS championships in Toronto.

After beating the Atlantic champion St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the quarter-final, the Gaels lost a heartbreaker to the eventual champions, the Trinity Western Spartans from Langley, B.C., in the semifinals. Up 1-0 on a Chantal McFetridge goal, Queen’s conceded the equalizer in the 87th minute to send the game to extra time and lost 5-3 in penalty kicks.

In the bronze-medal match the Gaels fell 2-1 to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, as they fell 2-1. Striker Jacqueline Tessier converted a cross from Renée MacLellan for Queen’s only tally.

After the tournament, defender Mikyla Kay and midfielder Riley Filion were named to the tournament all-star team. In addition, MacLellan, playing in her fifth and final season with the Gaels, was named the CIS women’s soccer player of the year.

Head coach Dave McDowell said his team put it all out on the pitch against the Spartans.

“The semifinal was a terrific game,” McDowell said. “I thought we did just about everything we needed to do to beat probably the best team in the country. We scored a terrific goal and I thought we defended it, played well intelligently and patiently but it just was one of those weird goals that got us in the end. To give up that goal with three minutes left was disappointing.”

Playing their third game in four days, with both previous games having gone into extra time, McDowell said the team was exhausted against the Thunderbirds.

“We had nothing left,” he said. “Unfortunately at the national level you’re limited with substitutions, so you’re going from unlimited [substitutions in the OUA] to six a game. You could tell the legs, and probably the head, just weren’t there.”

Even with the losses to end the season, McDowell said he was proud of his team.

“What they did this year was very special,” he said. “They were a terrific group of girls to work with who got better constantly through the year.”

McDowell said the team fit right in with the level of play at the national level.

“They showed that they could play with any team in the tournament and we look forward to seeing what they can do over the next few years,” he said. “Having a tremendous team performance at the highest stage is a pretty good sign of a good team.”

Captain Sara Buckham said although the season ended without a banner, it was successful on the whole.

“Looking back, it’s been an amazing journey,” she said. “I can’t but be proud of the girls for what we’ve accomplished this season through hard work and coming together as a team.”

Buckham said the Trinity Western game allowed the Gaels to show they can compete with the best.

“We were up against the defending national champions, so they were supposed to be titled as the best team in Canada, and to know that we could compete with them and even at times have them on their heels was very much a compliment towards us,” she said. “It gave us some perspective of our talents and our strengths.”

As the young team looks back on a season that saw them complete the regular season with a 13-1-2 record, allow a stingy five goals against, finish first in the OUA East garnering a fourth-place national ranking, advance to the national championships and then finish fourth in the country, Buckham said they only have one goal in mind going into next season.

“The experience of being at nationals will give us that much more hunger to be there next year,” she said “We want another shot at it for sure. Being able to make it there with such a young team, to see what it was like and know what we are striving for will keep us hungry all of next season.”

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