Print Edition: November 12, 2014
There is nothing bigger in Canadian collegiate sports than the CIS national championship tournament, which presents the best of the best from the biggest schools in Canada. The Cascades women’s soccer team got the chance to represent Abbotsford in the tournament this weekend when they travelled to Quebec City to take part.
It has been a drama-filled season, with the team coming up just short of winning the Canada West championship last weekend.
The Cascades faced three teams from the East Coast against whom they had little experience. The inexperience presented its challenges for the Cascades, who needed to rely on the study of game tape and overall skill, and not so much on game planning against a team of unknowns.
The first game came against Memorial University from Newfoundland. Although it seemed to all in attendance that the Cascades were the better team, they struggled to get chances at the net, and failed to convert the limited number of chances they did get. The Sea-Hawks forced overtime but eventually fell to the Cascades, who scored the second of their two in the overtime period off the strong leg of Carley Radomski.
“I love the character of my team. There’s a lot of emotions involved in a national tournament,” coach Rob Giesbrecht remarked to CIS Media. “Mistakes like that can lead to future mistakes. But we were the better team in overtime. I’m very proud of the girls.”
The win propelled the Cascades to the national semi-final against the host, Laval’s Rouge et Or. The Rouge et Or entered the tournament with a significant advantage against every other team, that being the fact that they were at home, playing on their field in front of their fans.
Against the Rouge et Or, the Cascades faltered. Perhaps it was the fact that the Cascades had played so much soccer over the past couple months and were finally starting to tire out, or because the Rouge et Or just figured out the Cascades’ attack that had proved so difficult for so many other teams. In the end, the Cascades failed to contend with the Rouge et Or, giving up three goals and not scoring any — relegating them to the bronze medal game.
Sunday morning was the morning of the national bronze medal game, and the Cascades were matched up with the number one nationally ranked soccer team, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, who had also lost 3-0 in their semi-final to the TWU Spartans.
It was the best game of the tournament for the Cascades, who battled hard against the Gee-Gees. The Cascades dominated early and were rewarded in the 19th minute. Tristan Corneil placed a corner kick perfectly for fourth-year Jade Palm, who shot the ball into the back of the net with her forehead, giving the Cascades a 1-0 lead.
Maybe the rest of the game would have gone differently if what happened next was somehow avoided. Monika Levarsky went down with an injury and missed the majority of the first half and a small period of the second. However, the loss of Levarsky didn’t plague the Cascades too badly. They didn’t give up a goal for the rest of the half, and remained at 1-0.
Although the Gee-Gees started pressing in the second half, they were unable to get past Kayla Klim and the Cascades’ defence. They broke through shortly after the 70th minute, and were awarded a penalty kick that was banged home off the foot of Pilar Khoury.
The last moments of the game were probably seen in slow motion by Giesbrecht, hoping to either score a quick goal or prolong the game to penalty kicks.
It was in the 88th minute when the official CIS Twitter account tweeted the 1-1 score still being a tie game. Almost right after, the Gee-Gees converted their second of the game, to give them the 2-1 lead and the national bronze medal.
It was heartbreaking for the Cascades squad, who had controlled the game for such a large portion and dominated the action. The Cascades goalkeeper Kayla Klim was named player of the game for the Cascades.
The loss marks the end of the Cascades’ season with heartbreak, falling just short of equalling their result in 2010 (the only other national appearance in school history).