Hawks eliminated from medal contention
VANCOUVER, B.C. — We have observed soccer in its cruelest form.
With the weather forecast predicting almost 48 hours of non-stop rain, it seemed like a premonition for what the Wilfrid Laurier women’s soccer team would experience in their quarter-final game of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship.
Injuries. Slippery conditions. A lack of chances. A “little error” that cost Laurier the only goal in an otherwise incredible effort against the top-seeded and No. 1 nationally-ranked Laval Rouge et Or.
And with the loss, Laurier finds themselves in familiar territory for the past five years — losing the quarter-final to move to the consolation semifinal with no chance of a medal.
Laurier has not won a game at nationals since 2010 when they won the semifinal to advance to the national championship, where they lost to the Queen’s Gaels 1-0 in extra time.
The Hawks handled possession very well against the Rouge et Or, who less than a week ago defeated the Sherbrooke Vert et Or 5-1 in the Québec conference final. However they lacked chances, as shots were 17-3 in favour of Laval. Laurier only mustered one shot on goal from Suzanne Boroumand, who was also named the player of the game.
“I thought we performed very, very well,” said head coach Barry MacLean said. “We handled ourselves very well in every position. I think we managed our game plan very well and we made one little error that cost us the goal, but I would say [Laval was] rattled and they didn’t get to play they wanted to play. We gave them a fright, for sure.”
Four minutes in, Laval began to show why they are so offensively dominant. A turnover in the middle resulted in Laval’s Lea Chastenay-Joseph ringing a shot off the post.
In the 19th minute, Laval’s Cynthia Turcotte had a tremendous opportunity, but first-year goalkeeper Ashley Almeida got a piece of the ball to make a huge save and keep the game scoreless.
Laurier had an opportunity in the 31st minute when Laval’s keeper, Marie-Joelle Vandal, played with the ball and Maxine Murchie tracked her. But no opportunity came forth, and the game remained deadlocked.
But minutes later, Almeida came out to play a through-ball when Chastenay-Joseph got a foot on it and sent it into the open net past the rookie keeper to break the deadlock. Laval would get a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute.
“They’re good at every aspect. They’re good defenders, but their entire team has an ability to transition from defence to offence so we were a little tentative and didn’t get as many numbers forward. We were more worried about them breaking off from one of our attacks,” MacLean said.
In the 38th minute, Laurier received their first of two major blows to the roster when Murchie collided with a Laval defender and did not get up. She was helped off the field and did not return. The game remained 1-0 Laval heading into the half.
The second half saw much of the same, with Laurier creating a lot of pressure but not developing any chances. In the 49th minute Nicole Lyon had an opportunity down the wing, but no shot came of it as Laval’s defence continued to stand tall.
Katie Bishop had a great opportunity in the 74th minute when she fired a bullet from 40 yards out, but it went flying over the net.
Laurier’s first shot on goal came from Boroumand in the 77th minute when she caught an opportunity from 30 yards out, but Laval’s keeper would scoop it up without much issue.
The second injury blow for Laurier came in the 83rd minute off a corner. The ball ricocheted out to Emily Brown who tried to get a shot off, but was tackled to the ground. She had to be helped off and did not return.
And that would be it, as Laurier was relegated for the fourth time in a row at nationals.
Laurier will now play the Atlantic University Sport champions, the Cape Breton Capers, in the consolation semifinal Friday at 11 a.m., pacific, 2 p.m. eastern. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
“For some of them, it could be the last game they’ll ever play and hopefully they can get themselves in a good mindset to play that game well,” MacLean said.
“It’s not going to be easy because right now, we’re already being held together by scotch tape with some of the injuries that we’ve got, but we’ll do our best.”
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