Women’s soccer tested but triumphant

Gaels roll on to 7-1 with two wins on the weekend

Defender Meredith Raddysh blocks the Laurentian Voyageurs offence on their way to a 2-1 win.
Defender Meredith Raddysh blocks the Laurentian Voyageurs offence on their way to a 2-1 win.

After taking their first loss of the season against Ottawa last week, the Gaels entered the weekend with ambitions of a new winning streak. The home field action kicked off on Saturday against the Nipissing Lakers at Tindall Field.

After a tough week of training for the Gaels, Nipissing came out with formidable pressure. The Lakers went up to a 1-0 lead half way through the second, but were answered quickly by Gaels striker Kelli Chamberlain’s goal a minute later. Nipissing held on and grabbed a 2-1 lead in the waning minutes of the half.

Down 2-1 at the half the Gaels had no intentions of adding a second loss to their record. The team’s leading goal scorer, striker Jaqueline Tessier stepped up again to erase Nipissing’s hopes after half time. She scored two goals to bring the Gaels to a 3-2 lead that they made sure to retain. The game was only their second to be decided by a one-goal margin, the other being a loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Head Coach Dave McDowell said he was frustrated with his team’s performance in the first half but felt that multiple factors contributed to their struggles.

“Against Nispissing we played maybe our worst half of the season in the first half, but in the second half we played better and showed character,” he said. “I think we had some players who didn’t have terrific games, we were questioning if we worked them too hard [this week]. The legs looked a little slow in the first half.”

Playing at Tindall Field may have affected performance. Normally playing at Richardson Stadium for home games, McDowell said Tindall felt more like being on the road.

“Tindall isn’t like a home game; it changes up what you do a little bit,” he said. “We have to get ready in the ARC which is further away from the field than we are used to. Also I believe we are a good team on turf but we train everyday on grass, it was nice to get back to Richardson [on Sunday].”

The women clearly enjoyed their return to the stadium, easily dismantling the Laurentian Lady Vees 4-0. Defender Brienna Shaw took the spotlight by scoring two first-half goals, one off of a penalty kick. Midfielder Jennifer Hutchison and Tessier also scored. Tessier’s three goals on the weekend move her OUA leading goal total up to 13.

The number of games in which the Gaels dominate the opposition does not seem to have had much on impact on the women’s work ethic this season, yet McDowell remains wary of overconfidence. “One of our focuses is to improve from game to game and training session to training session,” he said. “The girls realize that in terms of putting together a full 90 minutes of effort, we haven’t really done that completely yet.”

A tough week lies ahead of the Gaels with a midweek game added into their schedule as well as their weekend games. The whole roster will be put to the test in order to keep the top group fresh.

“[It’s a] crazy schedule,” he said. “I think for us there will be a real focus on the group of players getting us results in each game. We will be using a rotation of people in and out to keep the legs fresh. Maybe a little bit of extra recovery.” The Gaels face the Carleton Ravens at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Richardson Stadium.

The Gaels will play a home-and-away series against the RMC Paladins this weekend.

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