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