Women's soccer fourth at National Championship

Gaels miss out on finals with a loss in penalty kicks, fall to OUA champions in consolation.

Tara Bartram (centre) battles with UOIT.
Tara Bartram (centre) battles with UOIT at the U Sports National Championship.

After defining themselves as a defensive powerhouse this year, the women’s soccer team improved on their fairytale 2015-16 season. At this year’s national championship, the team improved on the previous year’s fifth place finish, coming in at fourth. 

The number five seeded Gaels matched up against number four St. Francis Xavier in their first match, knowing a win would earn them a spot in the semifinals and a guaranteed place in the medal rounds. It didn’t take long for the team to take the lead, with fourth-year Tara Bartram finding the back of the net in the fifth minute. 

The Gaels defense held strong for the remainder of the 90 minutes, ensuring that they would better last season’s fifth-place finish in B.C. 

The rest of the tournament proved more trying for the team, with the Gaels unable to find the back of the net for the rest of the weekend. The team’s defense — a clean sheet juggernaut throughout the season, and a vital cog in earning a spot in the tournament to begin with — was nonetheless incredibly strong. 

In the semi-final match against the UBC Thunderbirds, neither team could score during the game, forcing a penalty shootout that the Thunderbirds ultimately won 3-2.

In the subsequent bronze medal match, the Gaels faced the UOIT Ridgebacks in a rematch of the OUA finals that saw the Ridgebacks claim a 1-0 victory over the Gaels just weeks prior. It was a tight match between two title-worthy teams, b_ut the Gaels ultimately lost 1-0 to an all-too familiar foe.

The 2016 season was one that the Gaels should be able to take great pride in, having defended their place as a power in women’s soccer across Canada, and even furthered this reputation. 

Collectively, the Gaels also scored 39 goals in the regular season, something which helped close out key games.

The perennially-sturdy and composed defense — starting with the back four, but hinging on the collective effort of the entire team — also played a key role. Thirteen times Queen’s prevented its opponents from scoring, and only conceded 11 goals throughout the entire regular season.

Speaking about the team’s performance this year, second-year Lidia Bradau mentioned the attitude with which the whole squad began the season. “Coming off a strong season last year, the whole team had a sense of competitive entitlement and confidence that we could accomplish big things this season.” Bradau added how the team was relatively unchanged from last year and the players were all very comfortable with one another’s style, and could play to each other’s strengths. 

For Bradau, along with a handful of other sophomore players on the team, this year lent an entirely different experience from her rookie season. She spoke about finding her place within the strong team chemistry, and fully adjusting to the strength of the league.

Despite considerable improvements these past four months, the team isn’t looking to rest too much on its laurels before next year.

“Luckily, other than a couple of big losses, most of our lineup is returning, so we’re definitely looking to build on our strengths this season and get even more comfortable in possession and building on our chemistry on the field.”

Specifically, Bradau talked about the team using their athletic advantage to control the pace throughout the midfield, and get up the field as efficiently as possible. She sees next year’s team as being able to have another impressive year. 

The rest of the league will be on the lookout next year, as a motivated Queen’s team will be doing their very best to return once again to the head of women’s soccer in Canada.

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