Saturday, November 11, 2006

Gaels in CIS Final!

Since my last post, a lot has happened with the Gaels' women's varsity soccer team. They battled hard in last Sunday's OUA Final against Ottawa, enduring cold weather and a muddy pitch, but came up short, falling 1-0. The day dawned grey and cold, but a large crowd of supporters from both schools still came out to cheer the teams on. The muddy pitch at Richardson Stadium diminished the GaelsÂ’ usual creativity, turning the match into a midfield battle. Early on, Ottawa created most of the chances, but the QueenÂ’s defence, anchored by Andrea Pigozzo, Katie Dalziel, and Ali Skinner, made several excellent plays to stifle the Gee-GeeÂ’s attacks, and Gael goalkeeper Katie McKenna came up with a number of crucial saves. The Gaels had many scoring chances of their own, but were in turn stopped by quality defending and goalkeeping from Ottawa. The lone goal of the game came in the 57th minute, when a high shot from Gee-GeeÂ’s defender Laurel Fougere beat McKenna from 25 yards out.

After the tough loss, the Gaels packed up for their next day departure for Victoria, to compete in the CIS Championships this week. The one-shot elimination format of the championships made their first game, which took place on Thursday, especially important: if they lost, the highest they could finish would be fifth place. They took to the field against the Cape Breton Capers, and almost instantly went down 1-0, when Kristina Weatherbie beat McKenna on a breakaway. However, the Gaels withstood further early pressure from the Capers, keeping the score 1-0 at
the half. In the second half, the Gaels' fortunes changed, largely due to the efforts of Eilish McConville, recently named the CIS Women's Soccer Player of the Year. McConville was thwarted several times by Jessica MacDermid, the Cape Breton keeper, but set up fellow striker Renee MacLellan for the equalizer in the 63rd minute. McConville, named Player of the Game, also was involved in the winning goal, crossing the ball to Dalziel, who scored in the 83rd minute to send the Gaels through to the semifinals.

The championships featured quite a few upsets: No. 1 ranked Victoria and No. 2 ranked McGill both fell in the quarterfinals, leaving all three OUA entrants and the UBC Thunderbirds as the only teams still in the quest for the national championship trophy. Earlier today, the Gaels took on the York Lions in a soccer version of the "Battle of Ontario". Queen's created some early chances for both McConville and MacLellan, but were unable to convert until the 56th minute, when Dalziel banged home a cross for her second goal of the tournament, giving the Gaels a 1-0 lead. York came on hard, attempting to tie the game, but both the Gaels' defense and the score stood up. Queen's will face UBC in the final tomorrow, with the national championship on the line. The game takes place at 6 PM Eastern tomorrow (3 PM in Victoria), and will be webcast by Wavelit on a pay-per-view basis: any Queen's fans interested in seeing our team compete to be tops in the country can watch the game for $6.95 at Best of luck to the Gaels: see future posts here for how the game turns out, and hopefully my story on the championships will run in Friday's Journal.

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