TWU captures fourth national title
VICTORIA (U Sports) – At the end of a scoreless battle between national powerhouses, the Trinity Western University Spartans edged the defending two-time champion Queen’s Gaels 4-2 on kicks from the penalty mark in the gold-medal final of the U Sports women’s soccer championship at Centennial Stadium, on Sunday afternoon.
Trinity Western and Queen’s have now combined to claim the last five Gladys Bean Memorial Trophies. The Spartans had triumphed in both 2008 and 2009, while the Gaels came up just short in their bid to become the first team in history to three-peat as U Sports women’s soccer champion.
Both programs have a history of dramatic U Sports title matches. Trinity Western won its first banner in PKs back in 2004 and also prevailed in kicks in 2009. Queen’s won in overtime two years ago and edged Montreal in kicks in last year’s final.
In today’s shootout session, fifth-year goalkeeper Kristen Funk showed why she was voted to the first all-Canadian team this season. After Queen’s third shooter, Alexis McKinty, missed high to give the Spartans the advantage, the native of Calgary all but sealed the victory when she jumped to her left to stop Jessie De Boer’s shot. With TWU up 3-2, team captain Colleen Webber, also of Calgary, scored the game-winner.
It wasn’t Webber’s first PK heroics at nationals. In 2009, as a freshman, the defender had netted the winning goals against Queen’s in the semifinals and Montreal in the gold-medal match.
Funk was named player of the game for the winning side, while teammate Jennifer Castillo, a third-year defender from Surrey, B.C., was voted tournament MVP and received the Gunn Baldursson Memorial Award.
“I think our nerves caused us to play a little bit out of how we normally play but credit to my kids for hanging in there,” said Graham Roxburgh, who made U Sports history as the only head coach to win four U Sports titles in women’s.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games but it was a tremendous battle,” said Queen’s coach Dave McDowell. “There was tremendous tackling by both teams and a few chances both ways but penalties are penalties.”
The Spartans outshot the Gaels 9-3 in the opening half.
Midfielder Riley Filion had the most promising attempt for the Gaels in the 19th minute. Funk was caught out of her net on a scramble but Filion’s open-cage attempt was well blocked by the Trinity Western defence.
Krista Gommeringer, the Canada West rookie of the year, had a chance in the 31st to advance the Spartans when Jessica King flicked on a crafty pass but Gommeringer’s one-timer was cleaned up well by Gaels rookie keeper Madison Tyrell.
Both teams continued the physical and competitive defensive showcase after the halftime break, allowing very few opportunities. But in the 75th minute, Gommeringer had her second chance to put the game away. Webber threaded the needle on a pass to Alicia Tesan, who out-paced the Gaels back line to find Gommeringer at the near post, but her volley sailed wide.
A minute later, a ball was cut back to Gaels’ Breanna Burton, looking for her third goal of the tournament, but Funk made an excellent diving save at the near post.
In the 90th minute, Tyrell was forced to come out to Gommeringer on a 50-50 ball outside the box but Gommeringer was able to dodge the challenge, only to have her attempt stymied in final desperation by McKinty. With neither team able to capitalize, two 15-minute periods of extra time were added to the clock.
In the 98th minute, Gaels striker Jackie Tessier had a clear scoring chance when the Spartans’ Tessa Meyer turned the ball over. Webber slipped at the top of the box but Funk, again, made the save on the spinning shot.
Tyrell made two fantastic point-blank saves one after another, first on Alessandra Oliverio at the top of the six-yard box and then on Tesan from distance. With the stunning play of Tyrell and Funk, it was inevitable that the game would go to kicks.