Women’s soccer wins semifinal in penalty kicks; qualify for national championship

(Photo by Heather Davidson)
(Photo by Heather Davidson)

LONDON, Ont. – It wasn’t in the prettiest of fashions, but they still got it done.

The second-seeded and No. 10 nationally ranked Wilfrid Laurier women’s soccer team triumphed in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinal against the third-seeded Carleton Ravens Friday evening, winning 1-0 on penalty kicks.

Laurier advances to the OUA final and qualifies for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship next week in Toronto.

The Hawks were in a similar situation last year when they faced the Queen’s Gaels, playing 120 straight minutes before ending up in penalty kicks. This year the winner would come from Amanda Mithrush in the seventh round of kicks.

“I think we had a little bit left in us, but I do think we played as a team and that’s what we needed to do,” said fourth-year goalkeeper Katrina Ward, who made a huge stop in the seventh round of penalty kicks to win the game. “We really pushed and we got a lot of chances at the end … we competed. That’s the important thing.”

The game began with a lot of pressure from the Hawks, however no chances could be capitalized on. Striker Emily Brown and her wings worked well against the Ravens keeper, but couldn’t put anything in the net.

However the Ravens would counter on several occasions, with Laurier’s backline of Mithrush, Kelsey Tikka, Sarah Farano and Jacky Normandeau coming up big for the Hawks.

But both teams couldn’t keep up the solid play. The Ravens allowed multiple chances for the Hawks down the wings and Laurier would allow some sloppy play to give the Ravens a few good opportunities, including in the dying seconds of regulation when Ravens’ player Sarah Royer broke in all alone against Ward. Ward would step out of her net to make the save and keep it scoreless heading into extra time.

“I thought we were poor today, I thought we didn’t compete in many positions and a lot of players played scared,” said head coach Barry MacLean. “And it’s one of those playoff things where maybe the occasion got the better of some of our people.”

In extra time, rookie Normandeau had an excellent opportunity off a corner kick, however her header caught the crossbar and the game headed to penalty kicks.

With the win, Laurier will play the No. 1 nationally ranked and top-seeded Western Mustangs in an all OUA West division final on Sunday afternoon. The Mustangs defeated the fourth-seeded Gaels 1-0, also on penalty kicks Friday evening.

And for Laurier, it’s their fourth consecutive trip to fight for a national title.

“I think Amanda [Mithrush] really summed it up tonight in the second overtime,” Ward said. “She was like, “we’re playing for each other now.” And that’s where we’re at in the season; we’re playing for each other. It wasn’t our best soccer, but it’s our collective goal. We really want to get [to nationals].”

Game time for the OUA final is 2 p.m. at Western’s Huron Flats East field.

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