Out before nationals

Semi-final loss wipes out shot at fifth straight CIS berth

An uneven 2013 season plagued by injury ended last weekend when Queen’s women’s soccer fell in the OUA Final Four.

After upsetting the nationally top-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees and splitting a pair of penalty shootouts at the Final Four, the Gaels ultimately earned OUA bronze.

Before this year, the Gaels advanced to the CIS national championship four years in a row. This season, though, they were unable to make it past the top-ranked team in the West Division, the Western Mustangs, in the conference semi-final.

In this year’s OUA playoffs, Queen’s defeated the Laurentian Voyageurs 6-0 in their first playoff match and unexpectedly topped the Gee-Gees 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

In the first game of the semi-finals last Friday, the Gaels lost to Western in penalty kicks after keeping the game to a scoreless draw through regulation and overtime. First-year defender Micah Vermeer and fifth-year midfielder Alexis McKinty scored from the penalty spot, but the Gaels fell 3-2, allowing Western to advance to the CIS championships.

In the second game on Sunday, the Gaels won in penalties over the Carleton Ravens to claim bronze.

The Gaels played the Ravens twice during the regular season, defeating them 1-0 in the first match and drawing 2-2 in the second.

This match saw the Gaels defeat Carleton 1-0 after a scoreless draw through overtime.

The game was their third in a row to end in a penalty shootout, where Vermeer, McKinty, third-year midfielder Alex Blanchard, and first-year striker Tara Bartram all scored.

Goalkeeper Madison Tyrell was a driving force behind the Gaels’ progression through the playoffs, recording four clean sheets in four playoff matches.

The Final Four marked the end of a season plagued by injury and other difficulties. The Gaels finished the regular season in fourth place in the OUA East Division at 7-2-7, often struggling to convert offensively in close games.

The unexpected defeat of the Gee-Gees was a bright moment in an otherwise topsy-turvy season.

For much of the year, second-year striker Brittany Almeida and fifth-year midfielder Riley Filion were sidelined due to injury. Once the pair returned, the Gaels saw a greater number of victories, and what games they didn’t win, they typically kept to close margins. Other Gaels spent time on the injury list as well.

Despite the struggle throughout the season to close opportunities and play to their full potential, the Gaels featured a strong core.

Four players — Filion, Vermeer, McKinty and fourth-year defender Melissa Jung — were named OUA All-Stars, with Filion on the first team and the other three on the second.

Of those four, all but Vermeer will have graduated from the Gaels and won’t return next year.

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