Two losses against the province’s top teams at the OUA Final Four left the women’s soccer team with a frustrating end to their 2018-19 season last weekend.
A record of 8-3-5 was enough to secure second place in the OUA East standings for the Gaels, yet a string of unfortunate injuries left the team unable to overcome both Western and McMaster in the final rounds of the playoffs.
Queen’s lost to the Western Mustangs in the semi-finals 3-2 in extra time on Friday, and dropped the OUA bronze medal game to McMaster 3-0 the following Saturday.
“It was a combination of things, but the biggest was a lack of depth,” Head Coach Dave McDowell said. “Once we got some injuries, it was hard to replace those players on the field. To be fair to the players, some got thrown into situations that they just weren’t ready for.”
The coach noted, however, how the Gaels’ injuries may serve his less experienced players well in the future.
“A lot of really young players got some really good time, a lot of really good experience, and gave contributions that were probably a year or two ahead of where we thought they would be,” McDowell said.
Queen’s experienced a heartbreak to the Mustangs, losing by a tight score of 3-2 in a game that went late into extra time. On Sunday, the Gaels had a shot to grab OUA bronze and a berth in the U Sports Championships, but came up short 3-0 against a disciplined McMaster team.
While disappointed with the Gaels’ postseason exit, McDowell gave full credit to their talented opponents.
“It was disappointing. If you asked me before [the games], there was always the assumption we would win one of those games and be there [at U Sports],” he said. “Both [McMaster] and Western were good teams […] to be fair, any team that you play against in the final four are going to be good.”
Still, despite their lackluster performance in the playoffs, McDowell remained proud of his squad’s regular season finish.
“Just to have a young team come together so quickly and have so many contributions from the entire squad was great. I think the development of players throughout the year was noticeable,” he said. “I know all our players improved a great deal.”
McDowell alluded to the talented veterans on his side for their contributions this season, specifically the four Gaels given OUA all-star nods — Jenny Wolever, Lidia Bradau, Jaime Foot, and Alicia Levy.
“Obviously the play of some of our top players, our four all-stars who were very deserving of that, was important in helping us win games.”
Despite some uncertainity surrounding the return of some key players, next season looks promising for Queen’s. McDowell expects his incoming group of players to be more than capable of meeting the program’s expectations, set in recent years. The Gaels have reached the OUA Final Four in each of the past four seasons.
“We know we’ll lose Alicia [Levy] and Sarah Nixon [to graduation]…we’re not sure if Jenny [Wolever] is coming back […] but we’ve signed a fair number of recruits for next year, and we’re expecting a lot from them. We’re super excited about next year’s class.”
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