WATERLOO, Ont. (October 26, 2014) - The No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team advanced to their eighth consecutive OUA Final Four tournament on Sunday thanks to a 1-1 (4-2 PS) victory over the No. 8 York Lions on Sunday afternoon at University Stadium.
After the two teams played to a draw through 120 minutes of action, goalkeeper Maggie Carmichael of Orono, Ont., proved to be a difference maker, making two saves in the penalty shootout to lift her team to the victory.
“I was feeling good,” said Carmichael on her mindset entering her first career penalty shootout situation. “We’ve done a lot of work with them. I’d been pretty successful in practice so I was hoping for the same result that we’d gotten before. I mean, all four girls scored and that’s was really important too in the win. We all worked together, you can’t do it by yourself, it’s a whole team.”
Although the Hawks came away with the victory, it was the Lions who had the better start in the contest. Through the opening 45 minutes, York had six shot attempts and were rewarded with the game’s first goal in the 31st minute. Christina Morelli of Markham, Ont., finished off a chance in front of Carmichael to give the Lions a 1-0 lead at the half.
“The first game of the playoffs is always the hardest because it’s a new season and it’s the first game of that new season,” said head coach BARRY MACLEAN on his team’s slow start. “I think once the nerves go away you get a lot better performances. I really think that’s what it was, it was the first 45 minutes was a little bit anxious, not our normal tempo and when we adjusted, we were fine.”
Laurier responded with a much better second half and tied the game up just two minutes into the second 45. Off a wonderfully designed corner play, the ball was played back to captain Kelsey Tikka of Thunder Bay, Ont., who fired it into the box. First year forward Nicole Lyon of Kitchener, Ont., got her boot on the ball and deflected it past York keeper Courtney Davis of Cambridge, Ont., to tie the game at one.
Just minutes later, it looked like the Hawks would grab the lead as they caught Davis off her line but Emily Brown’s (Waterloo, Ont.) shot was cleared by Lions defender Shannon Wood of Brampton, Ont.
With the game tied through 90 minutes, Laurier entered familiar territory as they headed to extra time in their third straight OUA playoff game. Both teams produced great chances to win the game in the extra 30 minutes. First, in the 107th minute, the Lions had two shots inside Laurier’s 18-yard box, including one off the foot of York’s top scorer Nour Ghoneim of Aurora, Ont., but on each chance, the Hawks got a body in front of the shot.
“I think they all worked really hard today,” said Carmichael on her defenders shutting down the Lions. “They were all tracking back on their forwards and Jacky Normandeau did really well holding their key player [Ghoneim] so she didn’t get many opportunities. That was really important in keeping the score line down.”
Then, in the 109th minute, off a quickly taken free kick, Laurier midfielder Katie Bishop of Surrey, B.C., fired a shot that rang off the crossbar, just inches away from giving Laurier the victory.
With neither team able to break the deadlock, the Hawks and Lions headed to a penalty shootout and it was Carmichael coming up big early. After Tikka gave Laurier a 1-0 advantage, Carmichael denied Wood to put her team in a comfortable position.
The two teams would trade goals until York’s fourth shooter. Needing to score to stay alive, Aisha Lewis of Mississauga, Ont., was denied by Carmichael, sending the Hawks through the OUA Semifinals.
After taking out a Top 10-ranked team, the task for the purple and gold doesn’t get any easier as they will face the No. 1 Ottawa Gee-Gees in the semifinals of the OUA Final Four next weekend in Hamilton. Time and location is still to be determined so stay tuned to laurierathletics.com for complete playoff information.