After an exciting upset against the Dalhousie Tigers in the quarter-final match, the UNB Varsity Reds women’s soccer team fell in the semi-final to league leader Cape Breton University.
This past weekend, the Reds’ were off to Antigonish to play at the AUS Conference Championship. The quarter-final saw the Dal Tigers losing to the Reds for the first time in 2017 by an official score of 3-2, putting UNB in the semi-final match against the number one seeded Cape Breton University.
UNB quickly put pressure on their opponents by scoring their first goal on first-year goalie Kate Fines in the first minute of play. The Reds then found further success in the second minute with a goal by Jelisa Joncas, who capitalized on a long log by Emily Burton.
The Reds’ dominance continued until Dalhousie answered late in the half with Amanda Bowles scoring off of a well-placed corner kick.
After halftime, the two teams were evenly matched. Kate Fines stopped a penalty shot in the 66th minute, but MJ Miller followed the ball and drilled it past the Tigers netminder on the rebound.
With just over 15 minutes to go in the second half, the Tigers matched the Reds 2-2 thanks to number 17, Alyssa Hartland, sending the game into overtime twice over. The teams remained scoreless over the 30 minutes, pushing them into a shootout.
Each team was given five shots on net. The first goal was buried by V-Red Rachael Burton, matched by Amanda Bowles from the Tigers. Mackenzie Sinclair of UNB beat Fines for their second point. UNB’s Rebecca Duda then stopped Dalhousie’s second shot, giving the Varsity Reds an advantage going into the next round.
Fines was beaten once more by number 12, Silvie Fecteau, despite the netminder getting both hands on the ball. Fines then went on to score the Tigers’ second point against Duda. Keeping in good company with her sister, Emily Burton beat Fines for the Reds’ fourth point. Going into the final shot, the Reds still had their one point advantage; Clarisse Ramirez scored UNB’s final point, giving them the win.
“I think everyone went into that game expecting us not to win,” said senior player Rachael Burton. “But the energy before the game and even in warm-up was just crazy, so we came out flying; we scored a really early goal and then we just kept it going throughout the whole game.”
As for the successful penalty kick string, Burton said that the team “had been practicing PK’s all weekend” and were confident enough in their efforts to take the game.
“It’s only one win, but it validates the last six weeks of work for our group and their commitment and trust in what we were doing,” said head coach Jon Crossland in a press release.
Despite a valiant effort in the semi-final game against CBU, their success was cut short in a finish of 4-0 in favour of the Capers.
“We definitely felt like we had momentum because we had played so good the day before against Dal,” said Burton. “But in the back of our minds we were [reminded] that we had played 120 minutes against [the Tigers]. Going to play the first-place team in the league—number five in the country—who had fresh legs…We knew that it was definitely going to be difficult.”
The team came out strong, but the exhaustion “eventually caught up” and caused detrimental defensive lapses. Three goals in the second half—two of them back-to-back—were enough for the Capers to pull away for the AUS final bid.
Though the team fell short of their ultimate goal of making and winning an AUS final, they are happy with their late season push and positive finish.
“I feel really good about this season,” said Burton. “We started off really rough, but then when October hit we didn’t lose a game until [this past] Sunday.” “It’s great that we could turn our season around like that; it would have been easy to throw in the towel and not even try—but we did and it turned out well. We did better than everyone was expecting.”
The Reds finished 2017 with a 4-4-4 record in the regular season and a 1-1 record in the post-season.
Photos: Bryan Kennedy StFX Athletics