It was a heartbreaking ending to a dream season for the UNB Varsity Reds women’s soccer team.
The Reds, who were the No. 1 seed heading into the Atlantic University Sport playoffs this past weekend in Halifax, were upset by the No. 2 seed Memorial University of Newfoundland Sea-Hawks 3-1 in Sunday’s championship game.
UNB opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a goal from Hayley Gates. But the Varsity Reds’ lead was short-lived as MUN tied it 10 minutes later thanks to a Hannah Rivkin goal. Shots were 6-6 in the opening half.
20 minutes into the second half, Jesse Noseworthy scored to put the Sea-Hawks up 2-1. Less than four minutes later, Noseworthy scored again to give MUN a two-goal lead that would last until the final whistle. Shots were 8-2 Sea-Hawks in the second half.
Goalkeeper Hannah Noseworthy made three saves for the win. Sami-Jo Bell, who made a surprising return to UNB’s lineup this weekend after it was believed she was done for the season with a leg injury, made five saves in the loss.
The Sea-Hawks now advance to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships, which will take place from Nov. 6 – 9 at Laval University.
It may have been a disappointing ending for the Varsity Reds, but the team reached plenty of milestones this season.
Along with reaching the AUS final, the team finished in first place in the regular season standings for the first time in program history with a record of 10-1-2. The first place finish allowed them to receive a bye through to the semifinals where UNB defeated the Acadia Axewomen 2-1 for the first playoff win in Varsity Reds women’s soccer history.
The Axewomen controlled much of the play and possession in the first half of Saturday’s game. UNB couldn’t create many quality scoring chances and spent most of the half in the defensive end.
Momentum shifted early in the second. In the 49th minute, the Varsity Reds opened the scoring with a Lauren Cubbon goal. Then, less then 10 minutes later, Laura McNicholas headed the ball in during a scramble in the box to give UNB a 2-0 advantage.
Not long after hitting the post, Acadia’s Meghan Earle scored in the 67th minute to cut UNB’s lead to 2-1. That would be as close as the Axewomen would get thanks to some solid defensive work by the Varsity Reds and goalkeeping from Bell.