Silver by a sliver

Gaels lose national final in penalties

The 2012 campaign showed why Queen’s women’s soccer program continues to be a national powerhouse.

The women’s soccer team advanced to the final game of the CIS tournament, losing in a heartbreaking penalty shootout to the Trinity Western Spartans. The game was played in rainy conditions in Victoria, B.C. on Sunday and no goals were scored in regulation.

The Gaels faced three penalty shootouts in their last five games, including a loss in the OUA semifinal to the Laurier Golden Hawks.

Gaels head coach Dave McDowell isn’t a fan of penalty kicks.

“I’d rather just have us figure it out on the field, but I understand why they do it,” McDowell said. “We had 120 minutes to score and we didn’t but neither could they, so while it’s not my first choice I understand why they’ve chosen that method.”

Although the Gaels came up just short of their ultimate goal, McDowell considers this season one to remember.

“Again, I couldn’t be prouder of them, a team that fought through lots of injuries and sort of a slow start,” he said. “It is a season worth remembering and the girls understand that.”

The Gaels were forced to overcome injuries all season. Midfielder Melissa Jung missed the entire season, while leading scorer Jackie Tessier sat out the first quarter of the year with a nagging knee injury.

Co-captain Chantal McFetridge and midfielder Alexis McKinty both missed significant time towards the end of the season.

Even with the plethora of injuries, co-captain Riley Filion knew the Gaels would be fine if they performed well come playoff time.

“The ultimate goal was winning nationals and we came extremely close, proving many people wrong,” Filion said. “I think that our results during the season weren’t as good as other years, but what matters is how you do in playoffs and at CIS.

“We peaked at the right time.”

Postseason improvement seems to be the Gaels’ trademark. The Gaels only have one OUA title banner to show for the last three seasons, but have advanced to the CIS finals three years in a row, winning twice.

Tessier attributes a refusal to give up and strong team chemistry as keys to their success.

“We had to fight every step of the way to get to a third straight championship match,” she said. “The fact that we made it that far shows the incredible character and depth of this team.

“We always believed in ourselves and it’s our cohesiveness and passion as a group that got us the historic chance at a three-peat.”

Five Gaels received OUA East All-Star nods this season, with Filion, Tessier and second-year defender Jessie De Boer earning first-team honours. McKinty and veteran defender Mikyla Kay were named to the second team.

The graduating Gaels — Filion, Kay, McFetridge, McKinty, Tessier and defenders Sara Buckham and Meredith Raddysh may be some of Queen’s most successful athletes.

They each have four CIS tournament appearances, two national championships and an OUA championship to show for their service. The Gaels leaned heavily on the leadership and skill of their veterans to make it back to the CIS finals.

Tessier is grateful to have been a part of the historic four-year run.

“I’m just so proud of how our girls played for and represented Queen’s,” she said. “It’s been an amazing run.”

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