Emily Goodwin | Editor-in-Chief
Featured Image: Lions celebrate after the medal ceremony in Ottawa on Saturday. | Courtesy of uOttawa
The Lions women’s soccer team is celebrating after a victorious weekend on the pitch. They took down the former No. 1 nationally-ranked host Ottawa Gee-Gees in a thrilling 3-2 extra time victory in the semi-finals on Friday. The Lions moved onto the gold medal game on Saturday and shut-out the Varsity Blues 2-0.
Friday’s semi-final match in Ottawa was the Lions’ first appearance in the final four since the 2015 season where they lost in penalty kicks to the Queen’s Gaels. This time around, the Lions played relentlessly, and after 120 minutes of play, they came out on top with a spot in the finals and a guaranteed spot at the U SPORTS championships.
The Lions had to rally to come back from an early Gee-Gees goal scored by Katherine Bearne in the 10th minute. The Lions were able to tie it up at the end of the first half thanks to a tricky shot that ricocheted off a Gee-Gees player and into the Gee-Gees’ net. This tied the score 1-1 at the end of the opening half, despite more shots by both sides in the second half.
Near the end of the first extra time, Kalifornia Mitchell took a shot from 35 yards back. The ball landed out of reach of the Gee-Gees goalkeeper Margot Shore, and put the Lions up 2-1.
The Lions’ lead was short lived. Mikayla Morton of the Gee-Gees scored just minutes into the second extra time to tie up the score again.
The Lions took back control of the ball and broke through the Gee-Gees defence on a Lions’ corner kick so that Lions defender Jessica Lush could pass the ball off to Marissa Castellano for a shot on goal. Castellano put it in, and the game would end 3-2 in favour of the Lions.
The Lions returned to Gee-Gees Field to take on the Varsity Blues the following day. It was clear from early on in the contest that the Varsity Blues stood no chance against the Lions. Keeper Danitza Indacochea easily saved all five of the Varsity Blues’ shots. The first goal for the Lions came similarly to that of their first goal of the previous night’s game: a shot in the opponent’s end bounced off a Varsity Blues player and landed in their own net.
The Lions scored their own goal seven minutes later, when Lush was in the right place to finish a pass from Jotam Chouhan. This put the unstoppable Lions up 2-0 at half time.
The Lions were unable to widen the gap between their opponent in the second half, but those two goals in the opening half were all they needed to win the 2019 OUA Championships.
Now seeded first in the country, the Lions will take on the No. 8 Acadia Axewomen in the opening round of the U SPORT Championships in Victoria, BC.
In addition to their impressive playoff run, six Lions earned OUA West first team all-star awards: defenders Teni Odetoyinbo and Joselyn Gagliardi; midfielders Vanessa Salvaggio, Mitchell, and Farkhunda Muhtaj; and striker Kiyani Johnson.
Odetoyinbo was also named OUA West MVP, and head coach Carmine Isacco was named Coach of the Year in the division.