Women’s soccer aiming for return to form

Following a disappointing finish in last year’s Final Four, a new recruiting class promises to rejuvenate the program 

Women’s soccer aims for provincial supremacy.
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The women’s soccer team had a promising season last year that ended on a sour note with matches conceded to Western and then McMaster, placing fourth in the Final Four.

Despite the disappointing finish, the silver lining is that an already-strong young core has had an extra year to develop and gain experience. Next season, they plan to be reckoned with in the OUA Final Four where they have been a staple in past years.

Up until the Final Four, the Gaels were humming along as usual, finishing with a sparkling 8-3-5 record. Their regular season success came in part by standout play from seniors Jenny Wolever, the OUA MVP and a First Team All-Canadian, and Lidia Bradau, a Second Team All-Canadian. 

Their departures will leave the Gaels with holes on either side of the pitch. Wolever accounted for 38 per cent of the Gaels’ goals and Bradau was a noted defensive general.

Head Coach Dave McDowell is sad to see them go, but he knows that the future is in good hands. “We have a very good recruiting class coming in, it’s a very big class,” he said in a phone interview. “We anticipate contributions right away from a lot of them.”

The other main contributors to last season were the sophomores who will be expected to shoulder a greater role.

With the emphasis now firmly on youth, Coach McDowell’s focus going into the 2019-2020 season is quickly coming together and incorporating the freshman recruits. According to McDowell, it comes down to “how quickly can we get them initiated, on board and understanding expectations.” 

Another point of concern for the team is goal scoring, trying to replace the output from the graduating players. The Gaels will have to pay special attention to the offensive side of the game and continue to focus on setting up and scoring goals as efficiently as possible. 

“Who’s stepping up in terms of this, it will be a bit of a team process,” McDowell said. 

With the season less than two months away, the team is eagerly looking forward to hosting the Final Four at Queen’s. 

“The team will see where they are going based on the [composition of the] team and how they work together,” says McDowell. 

Women’s soccer has long been considered a stalwart of Queen’s Athletics, with unimpeachable success at the provincial level. Expectations haven’t changed because of two tough games, and McDowell recognizes the need to improve if the women are to make it back to the National Championships.

“There are some things we need to clear up, being better defensively and offensively and we think these are some of the things our incoming players will help us with,” he said.

The excitement around the new season is palpable, especially for the players themselves considering the long hours of work and training that they’ve been putting in throughout the offseason.

McDowell said they’re excited to see how things fall into place without their senior stars, as well as seeing the rookies take up the storied mantle of Queen’s Women’s Soccer success.

“So far so good. They’re doing a good job.”

 

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