Women’s Soccer falls short in OUA playoffs

Queen’s beats Nipissing in quarter-final, eliminated by York in semi-final

Queen’s fought hard until the end.
Supplied by James Paddle Grant

Queen’s started their playoff campaign strong with a 4-0 victory over Nipissing at home.

On Sunday, the Gaels met the Lakers at Richardson stadium. Many fans came out to support, including the very vocal and enthusiastic men’s soccer team. Echoing chants and drumbeats rang out as the game began.

Queen’s started off strong with good control of both the ball and the field. They had good passing and communication right from the start.

“I thought that in the first 10 minutes they came out really well and with a lot of energy for us,” Head Coach Dave McDowell said in an interview with The Journal.

However, Nipissing had a trick up their sleeve: they held a high defensive line to stop Queen’s infamous unrelenting offensive attack.

The first half featured offside call after offside call as Queen’s struggled to get through—they tallied 19 offside calls by the end of the game.

“We probably could have put it away a little bit earlier with some more clinical and efficient finishing,” McDowell said.

“They’re a tough team to play; with that really high line it just makes a difficult and kind of awkward team to play.”

At the 11-minute mark, Cecelia Way finally found an opening: she crossed a perfect pass to Mattson Strickler who then delivered a perfect goal.

Strickler spoke with The Journal about her goal.

“I feel like that got the game going and we felt more confident after that,” she said. “It felt really good to put in my contribution to the team this year—especially on home turf.”

After the first goal, however, Queen’s continued to collect offside calls.

Way and Jenna Matsukubo tried countless attempts to break the Lakers high line—nothing worked. Queen’s needed a new approach.

As they neared the end of the first half, Queen’s got clinical. They slowed down, controlled their crosses, and checked each time they went to pass Nipissing’s defense.

The care paid off and Matsukubo found the back of the net to put Queen’s up 2-0.

The second half brought more Gael domination.

As the team approached the 80th minute, Way brought in a goal of her own. The team has found success in their teamwork this year.

“[It’s about] really just viewing every person on the team as an equal […] knowing that we all have a role on the team and owning that,” Way said in an interview with The Journal.

“I’ve never heard of a team that’s had a better team culture […] there’s no selfishness,” Matsukubo agreed, in an interview with The Journal.

With five minutes left, Marissa Gravel made the score 4-0 two minutes after getting subbed on.

However, things took a turn for the worse on Wednesday night when the Gaels hosted the semi-final game against York on home turf.

They started the scoring in the first five minutes with a goal from Way, but York responded quickly with a goal of their own.

This pattern continued in the second quarter when York scored five seconds after Queen’s put in their second point. The game went to overtime, tied 2-2.

Overtime had high energy and high stakes. As they neared the end of the second 15-minute overtime period, York disputed a call made inside Queen’s 18-yard box.

The ref responded with a yellow card for the player. Outcry from the York coach earned him a yellow card as well. He kept arguing and received a red card, which got him kicked out of the game.

Despite losing their head coach, York secured the win in the last minute of overtime with a goal from York forward Alexandra Quaidoo.

Wednesday marked Queen’s first and only loss all season. Regardless of the result, McDowell ended the season with his head held high.

“[I’m] super proud of our group though. I thought they were fantastic and battled hard until the last second.”

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