GOLDEN OP­POR­TU­NITY

Gee-Gees siz­zle in the cold to book spot in U Sports fi­nal

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - DAR­REN DESAULNIERS

On a Satur­day bet­ter suited for win­ter pur­suits rather than the Beau­ti­ful Game, both the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa Gee-Gees and Trin­ity Western Spar­tans were able to em­brace the el­e­ments and earn semi­fi­nal wins at the U Sports women’s soc­cer cham­pi­onship at GeeGees Field.

It was cold and at times snow­ing, but even though the sun made a late ap­pear­ance the wind was the story of the day as it blew west to east from the start of the first semi­fi­nal un­til well af­ter the sec­ond had ended.

The day started poorly for the Spar­tans who trailed 1-0 at the half but ral­lied in the sec­ond half with the wind at their backs for a 2-1 win over the Univer­sity of Cape Bre­ton Ca­pers.

Rachel Leck scored in the 44th minute for the Ca­pers, but goals in the 80th and 90th min­utes by Amy Gartke and Kathryn Har­vey re­spec­tively gave the Canada West cham­pi­ons the vic­tory that moved them on.

The Gee-Gees had the wind at their backs in the first half and built a 2-0 against the Ma­raud­ers, who claimed the On­tario Univer­sity Ath­let­ics bronze medal, and then con­tin­ued their dom­i­nance into the sec­ond half, scor­ing twice more af­ter the Ma­raud­ers scored to make it 2-1.

“Some of the balls were run­ning a lit­tle long in the first half when we were try­ing to pass through but af­ter the first one or two at­tempts we seemed to get the right weight,” said Steve John­son, coach of the OUA cham­pion Gee-Gees

“In the sec­ond half we just main­tained con­fi­dence and man­aged the ball, con­tin­ued to pass and kept on the way we played all sea­son.”

The Gee-Gees were for­tu­itous on their open­ing goal as Ma­raud­ers ’keeper Ju­liana Hi­fawi made a save but the ball redi­rected off de­fender Clau­dia Con­ti­nenza and barely over the goal line for an own goal in the 13th minute giv­ing

the Gee-Gees the early lead.

The Gee-Gees went up 2-0 in the 24th minute, but it was that own goal that meant so much.

“It did. The wind was a fac­tor and I think McMaster just had some dif­fi­culty sort­ing out the pres­sure we were put­ting on them and we were happy to get that goal be­cause it took some pres­sure off us and mount more onto them,” John­son ex­plained.

Emma Le­feb­vre was cred­ited with the sec­ond goal for U of O in the 24th minute but said post-game that it was all Mikayla Mor­ton as her shot curled be­yond Hi­fawi as it went by Le­feb­vre. Al­though Le­feb­vre ap­peared to re­di­rect the ball in, she said she never touched it mean­ing the wind was again a fac­tor in the goal.

Af­ter Lind­say Bosweld got McMaster on the board with a bril­liant strike from the top of

the penalty box into the top cor­ner in the 68th minute, Le­feb­vre re­stored the two-goal ad­van­tage for the Gee-Gees as she turned and fired a goal along the turf just past the out­stretched hands of Hi­fawi,

Mor­ton then scored in the 82nd minute to give the GeeGees an in­sur­mount­able 4-1 lead, de­spite fight­ing the win.

“I was just try­ing to keep it to­gether, I was so ex­cited,” Le­feb­vre said.

“A 4-1 lead is hard to come back from with seven min­utes re­main­ing in the game. We still played with com­po­sure and still had some op­por­tu­ni­ties and it was a fun way to end the game.”

Fifth-year de­fender Kayla Da­Costa-Pacheco was un­able to con­tain her joy fol­low­ing the game as she re­flected on what had just hap­pened and the fact that it was here in Ot­tawa.

“It’s so spe­cial. I don’t even have words to de­scribe the feel­ing. We’re home, we just won 4-1. Five years ago we lost this game, now we have a chance to win the gold medal at home and our fam­ily can watch,” she said. “This team is awe­some. It’s one of the best team’s I’ve played with, there’s team spirit, ev­ery­one is into it.”

The Ca­pers and Ma­raud­ers meet in the bronze-medal game t 12:30 p.m. and the gold-medal game is sched­uled for 3 p.m. The fore­cast calls for sunny skies and sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced winds.

GREG MA­SON PHOTO

Mi­randa Smith (right) jumps into the arms of Ot­tawa Gee-Gees team­mate Mikayla Mor­ton af­ter Mor­ton’s goal dur­ing yes­ter­day’s semi­fi­nal against the McMaster Ma­raud­ers in Ot­tawa.

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