From November 7–10, the Varsity Blues will host the Canadian Intercollegiate Sport (CIS) women’s soccer championship at the Varsity Centre. The tournament will kick off on Thursday morning, with the home team facing Cape Breton at 7 pm.
The Varsity Blues finished the regular season with a 10–4–3 record, putting the team in second place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) east division, behind the University of Ottawa. However, the loss of their quarter-final game against the Carleton Ravens, knocked the Blues out of the provincial championships, and the team will made it into the national championship as hosts.
Head coach Anthony Capotosto describes the Blues team as “outstanding,” and added that “nothing went wrong” in the loss that kicked the Blues out of the running for provincial champions.
Co-captain Lisa English believes that in order to succeed in the championship, the team will have to see itself as a strong competitor: “The biggest challenge for our team will be believing that we can win the CIS Championship. We have to use our individual talents and skills but also work together as a team in order to be successful,” she said.
“One of the biggest weaknesses of our team this year was not capitalizing on all opportunities,” said English, adding that in preparation for the tournament, the team has been practicing every day so that players can improve on their weaknesses, including offense, finishing drills, and rehearsing set pieces.
This past weekend, the top teams from each division in the country competed for a spot in the CIS championship. The teams that made the cut, along with the Varsity Blues, were the Western Mustangs, les Carabins de Montreal, the Laval Rouge et Or, the Alberta Pandas, the Trinity Western Spartans, the Laurier Golden Hawks, and the Cape Breton Capers.
Western finished with a 13–1–5 record for the season, and fell 1–0 in the OUA final to the Golden Hawks. The team is led by second-year student Lauren Winquist, who scored nine goals from 30 shots this season and is ranked eighth in the province. Last season, the Mustangs’ season ended in the OUA West semi-final in a 1–0 loss to the McMaster Marauders.
Les Carabins de Montreal
Les Carabins won the Quebec provincial championship with a 1–0 win against Laval, after losing last year’s final to Sherbrooke 2–0. Les Carabins finished the season with a 11–1–2 record, tying Sherbrooke 2–2 in their single matchup with the team. Head coach Kevin McConnell, who has been with the team since 2004, has had a successful university soccer career himself — he played on the McGill Redmen during his time as an undergraduate, and in 2000 when he was studying for his masters in sports psychology.
Laval Rouge et Or
Laval is ranked ninth in the country, and finished its season with a 9–3–2 record. The team fell to the Carabins in the provincial final, but managed to clinch a spot in the CIS championship as runners-up. Last year, Laval was defeated1–0 in the provincial semi-final, ending their season before they could reach the national championship. The team beat the Carabins earlier in the regular season 3–0, and will have to play at the same level if it hopes to succeed in the nationals.
The Pandas are ranked third in the CIS top 10 after a 9–1–2 season; they have moved up one spot in the rankings since last season. Julia Ignacio is tied in the division for first-place with 10 goals scored in 12 games played. In the provincial championship this year, they beat Trinity Western, last year’s national champion, 2–1 after beating the UBC Thunderbirds by the same score in the semi-final game. The Pandas have greatly improved their play this season, after being knocked out of the provincial championship in the quarter-final against UBC last year in a 4–0 shutout.
Trinity Western Spartans
The Spartans started their season strongly, with a 3–0 win against the Guatemalan national team, and continued playing at a high level, finishing with a 14–3–3 record. However, after nine straight wins, the team lost in the division final to Alberta. Krista Gommeringer is tied with the Pandas’ Ignacio for the goal-title. As mentioned before, the Spartans took the national crown last season after a 1–0 victory over the Queen’s Gaels, and the team will seek its second consecutive championship title.
Laurier Golden Hawks
The Golden Hawks won their eighth OUA title last wwekend after defeating Western. The team is also home to Emily Brown, a third-year forward and the top-ranked player in the province; Brown has scored 15 goals from 38 shots in her 16 games. Laurier’s journey was cut short in last year’s CIS championship, when it fell 1–0 to the University of Sherbrooke in a consolation game, after losing the quarter-final 2–1 to Trinity Western.
Cape Breton Capers
The Capers completed an undefeated season with a record of 9–0–4. Cape Breton fell out of the tournament last season after a 1–0 loss to Dalhousie in a consolation game. Last weekend, the Capers shut out Acadia University with a final score of 3–0, getting an early lead by scoring two goals in the first half from third-year forward Karolyne Blain. Blain leads the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) with 14 goals, double the number of the next best player.