OUA Women’s Soccer Semi-Final Showdowns
And then there were four…
|11/01/2023 Next Event||McMaster %||Ottawa||OUA Semifinal | Matt Anthony Field||6:30 PM EDT||Live stats Tickets|
|Queen’s %||Western||OUA Semifinal||7:00 PM EDT||Live stats|
So the first semi-final on Wednesday November 1, 2023 6:30 pm @ Matt Anthony Field NR McMaster (9-2-2) @ #1 Ottawa U (11-0-1)
McMaster, How they got here:
With a fate of either Semi-finals or elimination looming, the Marauders faced the Guelph Gryphons in a close match. McMaster came out on top, defeating the Gryphons 2-1.
The Marauders began the game in a new foundation line, which saw great opportunity and chances. Coming back from a season history of loss against the Marauders, the Guelph Gryphons tested the home team.
Getting an early start in the 21st minute, Olivia Razakos, of the Guelph Gryphons, slipped past the Marauders back line and shot a low touch into the mesh.
The 23rd minute brought an injury to Lindsey Barwitzski. After clearing a ball in the 16, she got caught in a collision. While she was being seen by trainers, both teams got a beat to regroup.
With perseverance and feist, McMaster wasn’t counted out. In the 35th minute, the game turned to a new level of heat, Ravina Braich broke through Guelph’s Brooke Morton, who then tackled Braich in the box. Emilie Calabrese stepped up to the line to take the kick and found the equalizer for Mac.
Once the game found the draw, after the first half both teams played with fury. Both teams had a minimum of 2 fouls, and 5 shots, respectively. It was looking like the game would result with extra time, with the balanced play… that was until the 84th minute. Alena Spehar outran her check after a solid baseline ball, Spehar then found the feet of Calabrese, who was uncontested this match. Calabrese, beautifully, placed the ball in an unsavable top corner.
Guelph was grasping for one final chance to force a tie. In the stoppage time, Ali Mudie made an incredible save, punching it directly off the foot of a Gryphon, causing a corner. Mudie, once again proving her excellence on the field, was surrounded by four ladies in red, and meet the ball with her gloves to finalize the win. An audible sigh of relief was overheard by the Marauders’ fan area.
Ottawa U, How they Got Here:
The Gee-Gees women’s soccer team started their playoff run with a 3-0 victory over the Varsity Blues in the OUA quarterfinals last Saturday afternoon.
Behind two goals by Cassandra Provost in the opening half, the Gee-Gees were in control throughout the game. It was Toronto who sealed their own fate, registering an own goal towards the end of the second half.
“We prepared well. We scored two goals and I think that’s a result of great training from our team all week,” said Gee-Gees head coach, Steve Johnson.
The Gee-Gees took less than two minutes to find the back of the net. Jenna Matsukubo crossed the ball for Provost, who took advantage of her space and fired the ball to the left of the Toronto keeper.
Before the end of the opening 45 minutes, Provost found another. This time, a corner kick from Nibo Dlamini created a scramble in front of the Toronto goal. Provost was able to track down the ball and send it into the net.
The Varsity Blues still had the entire second half to work with but were unable to get the upper hand.
“They play an interesting formation, we adjusted and kept the ball in the back, making them run a lot and tired them out a bit,” Dlamini explained. “Spaces started to open up and we took advantage of that.”
With the win, the Gee-Gees advance to the OUA semifinal where they will face an OUA West opponent they haven’t seen during the regular season, the McMaster Marauders. The Marauders finished the regular season with an 8-2-2 record, and earned a 2-1 win over Guelph in their quarterfinal game.
The Gee-Gees although they haven’t faced everyone in the OUA this season have been one of the class teams of USports taking over the Number #1 ranking last week from UBC. There is no reason to believe that they will stop here. This one will be closer on the score sheet than on the field of play. Unfortunately for MAC, it is a case of “been there, done that” for the Gee-Gees
Prediction: Ottawa U
McMaster 1 Ottawa U 3
The second semi-final on Wednesday November 1, 2023 7:00 @ Mustangs Field #3 Queens (11-1-1) @ #8 Western (11-1-1)
Queens: How They Got Here:
When Vita Naihin corralled the rebound and found the back of the net with less than 10 minutes of regulation to play, sending Queen’s Women’s Soccer past the Nipissing Lakers 2-1 and into the OUA semifinals, Saturday night at Richardson Stadium, she was really saying “Next”!
Okay that may be a bit of an overstatement, but the Number 3 nationally ranked Golden Gales are at their lowest ranking of the season and with the trip guaranteed to the National Championships at Richardson Stadium, their home I might add, they are playing with a chip on their shoulder saying, “Not in our house”.
Cassidy Brooks responded for Nipissing eight minutes later, evening the score.
Both teams traded chances throughout the rest of the first half and most of the second half, until Naihin scored and gave Queen’s the one-goal win.
The tightly contested contest with Nipissing even at 1-1 up until Naihin (Markham, Ont.) broke the deadlock, finishing off a strong play started by the Gaels’ Tatiana Kayrouz (Ottawa, Ont.), who fired a shot at the Lakers’ goalkeeper that fell to Naihin for the winner. Probably did more for Coach Dave McDowell’s charges reminding them that they need to fight hard and be sharp, or it will be over quickly.
Western: How They Got Here:
When the the Western Mustangs played host to the Laurier Golden Hawks on Sunday at Mustangs Field in a game that would decide who progresses to the next round of the playoffs, the question looming was: Did Coach Barry Maclean and his coaching staff have the formula to stifle the Mustangs and maybe pull off the win?
Laurier gained possession early on in the game with a shot on goal in the 5th minute of the game which was caught by Samantha St. Croix in goal for Western.
A free kick for Western was taken by number 14, Reese Fowler. The ball was sent into the box and headered into the goalie’s arms by Western.
A penalty kick for Laurier was taken by number 27, Tamara Lisser but went wide left, resulting in a goal kick.
In the 13th minute of the game, Mackenzie Bilotta crossed a ball into the box and found the back of Laurier’s net putting the team up one goal early on in the game.
The Mustangs maintained the pressure on the Golden Hawks by keeping possession in Laurier’s half of the pitch.
A corner for Western sent the ball into the box in the 23rd minute of the game. Both Mackenzie Bilotta and Natalie Abbate made passes to keep the ball in the box but it was sent wide right of the goal.
Laurier took a shot on goal a few moments later in the 36th minute of the game but the ball went high. Reese Fowler then sent a long shot into the box but it was caught by the goalie.
Possession was maintained by Western in the last few minutes of the game with the two teams going into halftime with 1-0 to Western.
The Mustangs put the pressure on Laurier early on in the second half with Western pushing towards the Golden Hawks’ goal but sending the ball out of bounds leading to a goal kick.
Mackenzie Bilotta took a shot on goal in the 54th minute but it was saved by Taya Johnson. Maddy Skinner would then take another shot on goal two minutes later but it was saved again by Johnson.
The Golden Hawks worked to maintain more possession in the second half of the game, making progress up the field which was halted by the Mustangs’ defence.
A free kick for Western with 13 minutes to go was sent out by Medina Birani. The ball was then sent back in again only for Western promptly send it back out to ensure no goals were conceded.
Laurier made sure to maintain the pressure on Western into the final few moments of the game. Sasha Marikano sent a shot towards St. Croix in the 88th minute but it was saved. Marikano sent another shot towards Western’s goal a minute later but had no luck finding the back of the net.
In overtime, Western made sure to maintain possession and kept the pressure on Laurier but ended the game with a 1-0 score on the board. The Mustangs were able to not concede any goals and move into the next round of the playoffs.
After the game, Head Coach Martin Painter explained that it was a “very difficult game. Laurier had a good game plan, really well organized team and that made things difficult for us. I think we were a little bit nervous, and it was a battle from the start to the finish. We had a really good goal, well executed and, you know, defended well. At the end of the day we are moving forward but we know we can play better.”
When asked about looking ahead to next game if there was anything the team was focusing on, Coach Painter noted that “I think, we don’t have concerns. We are excited. We’re hosting an OUA semi-final. There are only two teams in the province that have that opportunity and we are one of them. So, we are just excited, and we are going to go out and just have our best game of the season on Wednesday.”
So where are we?
This should be an entertaining tilt between two very good teams with identical records that appear to have hit their stride, are well coached and a good mix of experienced players from top to bottom. The coaching staff and head coaches are fairly even in experiences both inside and outside of USports, they both know how to win and can translate it to their players. Queen’s has had an easier time in the east, because they were so dominant, and because the west for the Mustangs was a bit more tightly contested among opponents this year. That could to speak to how dominant the Golden Gales were in their division.
Western owns the head to head since 2012 with a slight edge of 3 wins to Queens’ 2.
Unfortunately for Western, this year belongs to Queens and they should be in the OUA final on the weekend.
Western 1 Queens 2
Gold Final: Queens @ Ottawa U
Bronze Medal Game: McMaster @ Western