For the fourth straight season, the women’s soccer team (9-3-5) is headed to the OUA Final Four.
On Sunday, the Gaels beat the Nipissing Lakers (8-5-5) 5-1 in the OUA quarterfinals, putting them on the brink of a national championship berth after missing the tournament last season.
“Overall, it was pretty comfortable,” head coach Dave McDowell said of Sunday’s playoff match. “We’ll take the win, that’s for sure.”
The win closed a long offensive dry spell for the Gaels, who had scored four goals in their final six games of the regular season—four of which ended in a tie.
Beforehand, McDowell had his team enter the match with an offensive mindset.
“Based on the number of offsides, we were trying to play behind [their defence] but we may have gotten a little over-anxious at times in terms of movement patterns,” McDowell said, alluding to Queen’s 11 offsides during the game. “Scoring five goals is good.”
The outcome of the match appeared determined from the outset, as OUA points-leader Jenny Wolever scored a pair of goals eight minutes in. Nipissing retaliated three minutes after her second tally to make the score 2-1, and remained that way until the 67th minute when Wolever netted her third goal and completed a hat trick.
“I thought the first half was sloppy,” McDowell said. “I thought we came back from that.”
With four days of rest, the Gaels are putting all their resources towards Friday’s OUA semi-final, where they’ll be taking on the Western Mustangs (9-2-5) in London. The two teams didn’t face off during the regular season because Western plays in the OUA West, where it finished second, tying with York.
W⚽ – Hat trick Jenny strikes again!
— Queen’s Gaels (@queensgaels) October 28, 2018
McDowell said he’s expecting Western to come out with a similar offensive style to Queen’s.
“It’ll be a battle of teams trying to dictate the style of play,” McDowell said. “I think to some degree, the team who’s able to dictate will have success on Friday.”
On the other side of the semi-final draw, the UOttawa Gee-Gee’s (14-1-1) will take on the McMaster Marauders (8-3-5) on Friday afternoon. The Gee-Gee’s finished first in the OUA East while the Marauders ended their season fourth in the West. McMaster arguably had the upset of the playoffs last weekend, when they beat the 12-1-3 Guelph Gryphons.
“We’re feeling really good about ourselves but also know that all the teams were going to see now are actually deep so we’ll have to be on top of our game,” McDowell said of the remaining four teams in the Final Four.
A win on Friday would earn Queen’s a spot in the U Sports Championships, which takes place the following weekend in Ottawa. For McDowell, though, heading into the national championships isn’t his team’s goal—it’s a gold medal.
“I think there’s always been a quiet confidence with this group,” he said of his players. “Do I think it’s in us? Absolutely, but we’re going to have to play really well.”
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