Rollercoaster season finishes on high note

Gaels earn fifth place at CIS National Championships

Women’s soccer fifth-place finish in the CIS National Championships marks the end of a highly successful, up-and-down season. 

With their first-place standing in the OUA Final Four the previous weekend, the Gaels were one of two Ontario teams to qualify for the eight-team Canada-wide playoff tournament. 

Queen’s met the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, the Quebec conference runners-up, for a rain-soaked first-round knockout game. 

Brittany Almeida opened the scoring for the Gaels in the 59th minute of the close contest, only to see Sherbrooke net an equalizer less than two minutes later. The game stayed tied throughout regulation and overtime, bringing the Gaels to what would be the first of three shootouts they would contest throughout the tournament. 

Queen’s goalkeeper Madison Tyrell had a strong shootout once again, stopping two of the six shots she faced.  

However, unlike their victory in the OUA, the Gaels could only score three of their six kicks, and were handed their first loss in over seven weeks. 

The loss relegated the Gaels to the four-team consolation bracket, with fifth seed the highest possible prize for the victor. 

In the consolation semi-finals, Queen’s met the Calgary Dinos, who had been beaten by hosts UBC 1-0 the previous night. Neither team could manage a goal throughout regulation, so the Gaels were faced with their second shootout in as many days (overtime wasn’t played in the consolation bracket). Madison Tyrell once again made a key save for the team, while Tara Bartram, Laura Callender, Jessie de Boer and Kyra Steer found the back of the net in the 4-2 shootout victory. 

The Gaels next faced the Cape Breton Capers, with the consolation title of fifth place on the line. The Capers went ahead early, putting a goal past a disorganized Queen’s back line after a rare moment of defensive frailty. The game remained 1-0 until the 88th minute, when Jessie de Boer put a shot past the Capers keeper and sent the game to a shootout. 

As had come to be expected, Tyrell made two saves, and all four Queen’s shooters once again scored for another 4-2 shootout victory and fifth place in the CIS National Championships. 

First-year Lidia Bradau, who scored in the shootout against Cape Breton, the team grew over the season and peaked at the right time, propelling them to the OUA championships and the subsequent CIS tournament. 

Along with Bradau, the team had many new players, which made developing a connection important from the start of the season. 

“Our first few games in preseason were all about building chemistry with each other, and seeing where all of the different pieces fit in together on the field,” Bradau said. “I think once we got that together, we started connecting way more passes and involving all parts of the field in our play, and things just started meshing.”

The Gaels carried an eight-game undefeated streak into the playoffs after finding their top form following a tougher opening month. The momentum the team carried, Bradau mentioned, was a key factor in the success the team had. 

“[We had] a couple really strong weeks before we started playoffs. [We realized] collectively as a team we have the ability to beat any team when we’re on our game.”

 

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