A silver lining

Tania Pedron took a moment to collect herself after her Wilfrid Laurier University’s soccer squad lost the provincial championship to arch-rival Queen’s, 1-0 on Sunday.

Then, she faced the microphones.

“I’m so proud of our girls,” said the country’s most dominant holding midfielder as described by Laurier head coach, Barry MacLean.

“It’s an unfortunate outcome [losing the game in penalty kicks], but we left it all out on the field …. We knew that coming in it was going to be a fight, and [Queen’s] gave us a hell of a game,” said a teary-eyed Pedron.

The Golden Hawks have the chance to reverse their fortunes from this past season.

“Last year, we were the ones holding the trophy and the banner and hopefully at nationals we’ll be the ones with the trophy.”

The Queen’s Gaels watched as the Hawks celebrated their Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) championship win just a year ago in Queen’s own stadium.

And essentially the same team one year later shoved that same bitter pill down Laurier’s gullets.

With a called-back goal, scored by Laurier during the match, and a saved shot on Alyssa Lagonia by Queen’s keeper, Chantel Marson, who possessed the only save in the penalty-kick shootout after extra-time ended, Queen’s hoisted their fifth OUA women’s soccer trophy into the late hours of the night, in front of hundreds of devastated Hawks supporters.

“There was no chance she was offside,” said MacLean of Pedron and her would-be goal. “They were a good team, but I thought we were the better team.”

Indeed after a strong initial onslaught by the Gaels, Laurier weathered the storm long enough to take control of the game and much of the possession for the duration of the second half.

Kelli Chamberlain, a scoring threat for Queen’s sat out for the Gaels due to injury and Jackie Tessier, the OUA’s leading scorer in the regular season with 12 goals, was also removed halfway through the game with an injured right ankle.

But the game-plan worked to perfection to contain the striker.

“Tessier was absolutely nonexistent. [Defenceman] Jess Carter managed her from the beginning to the end, and frustrated her…. She started off very high [in the offensive zone] and ended up in her own half of the field because she couldn’t deal with Jess Carter,” said MacLean.

And frustrate her, Carter did.

Tessier gave the local Bluevale Collegiate graduate a facewash to earn herself a yellow card, and almost left the game with a red one after slide tackling a Hawk from behind. Tessier received a warning.

Along with Carter’s heroics, Pedron stood tall in the midfield and at multiple points in the game, outplayed three triple-teaming Gaels.

“She’s a rock,” said MacLean of the 2010-11 Laurier female athlete of the year.
“She has been for five years.”

Laurier now has a chance to reverse their fortunes from a year ago after Queen’s beat the Hawks, 1-0 in extra time in the national championships’ 2010 gold-medal game.

“Nationals is our goal,” said Pedron.

The University of Ottawa took the bronze medal in the tournament, beating McMaster 4-0.

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