Women’s soccer can’t take top prize

The Gaels fall in the gold medal game of OUA Final Four for the second year in a row but earn a berth to nationals

Goalkeeper Chantel Marson watches on as defender Summer Rybicki challenges a Laurier forward for the ball.
Goalkeeper Chantel Marson watches on as defender Summer Rybicki challenges a Laurier forward for the ball.

A brisk November weekend welcomed the OUA’s top women soccer teams to Kingston. The Queen’s Gaels beat the McMaster Marauders 3-0 in their semifinal on Saturday but they fell 1-0 in the gold medal game to the Laurier Golden Hawks on Sunday.

Striker Kelli Chamberlain said the McMaster game was important since it determined not only who would play in the gold-medal game but also who would be heading to nationals in PEI next weekend.

“We definitely came out hard yesterday,” she said. “[There] was a lot more at stake in terms of getting to nationals.”

The Gaels’ performance against the Marauders showed the small but vocal crowd of about 300 why the Gaels were ranked first in the country. The Gaels had a strong showing from their offence, which had been key to their 14-2 regular season.

Stikers Jacqueline Tessier and Chamberlain, who were dominant in the regular season, scored and midfielder Mary Kampman added the second goal of the game. Tessier showed her speed as she took a pass from Chamberlain in the second half and skipped around the goalkeeper to score her 20th of the season.

The Gaels played the Golden Hawks Sunday after Laurier beat the Ottawa Gee-Gees in their semifinal game. The game remained tight throughout as both teams’ defensive efforts refused to give up opportunities.

“We really wanted to come out [just] as hard today,” Chamberlain said. “I just don’t think we had enough ‘oomph’. I think we played well in the first half, [we] just didn’t have enough power to get through the second half.”

“In the first half, we looked a little tight in the offensive third, certainly in the penalty area,” head coach Dave McDowell said. “We had some chances and didn’t create enough in the second half to really know if we loosened up at halftime.”

McDowell said the Gaels came out flat in the second half and Laurier took advantage of their play by targeting the Gaels’ strengths.

“You’ve got to give [Laurier] credit,” he said. “I thought they did a very good job in dealing with our danger players and kind of shut down those opportunities. From our standpoint [we] just seemed to be a wee bit flat in the second half. ... I think [we] gave away too many corners in the end [and] that came back to hurt us.”

Goalkeepers Chantel Marson and Elena Corry split the weekend with Marson in goal for the gold-medal game. Marson said the team needed to have a full 90 minute effort.

“It was a tough battle,” she said. “We knew it was probably going to be a one goal game. I think they just managed to capitalize on their chances. ... I think we had some good chances in the first half and maybe we were just a little bit nervous. ... It’s just one mental lapse that let them score their goal.”

Marson said falling behind by one goal in a championship game is tough mentally on not just the goalkeeper but the whole team.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking,” she said. “I think you just have to play with a lot of confidence and do what you know you know you can because when you do that you make better decisions and get better results for your team. We were just unlucky to let one go in today.”

The Gaels’ strong effort would only hold up until the 78th minute when Laurier was able to score off of a corner kick, one of the seven they were awarded in the game.

Tessier, the leading goal scorer in the country and the OUA East Player of the Year, said the team was expecting a challenge from the gruelling weekend.

“We knew it was going to be a tough match-up and I think we were a little tired from yesterday,” she said. “They shut us down and [in] the second half, they definitely dominated us. It shows us that we’re not on top of the world here. We have to still work hard for every win and hopefully we can still improve for nationals.”

The Gaels, who outscored their opponents 51-10 in the regular season, took little from their number one ranking, understanding that teams start on equal footing in the playoffs. Tessier said the Gaels will look to improve this week in practise and will be ready for nationals in PEI.

“Any team can win on any given day depending on who wants it more in the playoffs,” she said. “We’ve just got to come out to every game wanting it more than anyone else out there.”

The Gaels will be at the CIS Championship in Charlottetown, PEI next weekend. The Gaels face off against the Cape Breton Capers at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

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