Gee-Gees Eliminated from National Title Contention
After an incredibly successful and dominant OUA season, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s soccer team qualified with one of the highest seeded spots for the 2023 U SPORTS National Championship.
Yet, despite their awe-inspiring performance provincially, a flustered and rushed side would end up on the losing end of a match for the first time in 2023, eliminating them from a possible second National cup in six years.
Facing off against the UBC Thunderbirds, it was known the moment their names were drawn together for the first round that it would be a close affair. The Thunderbirds women’s side had held first place in the U SPORTS national rankings for 16 straight weeks before being overtaken by the Gees late this season.
The Thunderbirds were slated for total Canada West control until the final where they lost to the Trinity-Western Spartans in a shootout, granting UBC the second seed.
The game’s first half-an-hour would be defined by a tense and close style of football played by both sides with UBC’s main strategy being balls to U SPORTS 2023 MVP Katalin Tolnai, while Ottawa relied quite heavily on their defense in a textbook demonstration of anti-football.
But someone had to eventually break the deadlock, with Tolnai herself being serving as hero for Thunderbirds fans across the country.
A long ball to Tolnai would catch the University of Ottawa defensive line off-guard. A quick tap by Tolnai would place the ball behind a rushing Juliann Lacasse, allowing Tolnai to place the ball easily into the back of the Gee-Gees net despite pressure from Gabrielle Ferland.
The rest of the match – particularly the second half – would see a Gee-Gees squad mired with failing long balls and controversial calls by the match official.
The shift in the side’s style of play would hamper any real attempts at equalizing the scoreline while simultaneously leaving their third of the pitch exposed; UBC nearly made it a two-goal game on several occasions, hitting the post or crossbar four times over the course of the second half.
OUA MVP and reigning Golden Boot holder, Cassandra Provost, would find herself shutout from the gamesheet for a second game in a row as a prepared UBC defence would constantly surround the University of Ottawa striker, suffocating her of the space that she normally thrives in.
As the time ticked on, it was clear that frustration was getting to Provost as the lack of goal opportunities coupled with several questionable calls by the referee against her.
With the match ending one-nil for the Thunderbirds, they continue their journey towards a potential eight national title. They are slated to take on the University of Montreal Carabins in semi-final action Friday, since the Carabins ousted the St. FX X-Women on Thursday afternoon.
As for the Gee-Gees, they will remain in Kingston for the Consolation bracket having already beaten the X-Women two-nil Friday afternoon, leaving them to face off against the Western Mustangs in the fifth-Place match on Saturday.