October 26, 2013, LANGLEY, British Columbia (ISN) –The Trinity Western women’s soccer team earned a spot in the Canada West Final Four for the 10th straight year, as the Spartans beat Saskatchewan 2-0 in their quarter-final match Saturday at Rogers Field.
The Spartans Vanessa Kovacs (North Delta, B.C.) tallied two first half goals – both of which came off set-piece crosses from Krista Gommeringer (Calgary) – and that proved to be all TWU would need to knock off the Huskies.
With the victory, the defending CIS champion Spartans, who finished fourth overall in the regular season, will play Final Four host Victoria in the Canada West semifinal Nov. 1 at 7:15 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to both the Canada West gold medal match and earn a berth in the CIS national championship.
Last year, in the playoffs, the Spartans beat the Vikes in both the Canada West title match and the national semifinal. This year, in their lone regular season meeting, the Spartans lost to Victoria 2-1 at Rogers Field.
The win keeps the Spartans late-season momentum rolling, as they have now won eight straight games and are unbeaten over their last 11 contests.
For the Huskies, it was the second year in a row they have lost in the Canada West quarter-final, after falling to Regina last year.
“It was a really tough game and credit to Saskatchewan because they played extremely well and extremely physical,” said Spartans coach Graham Roxburgh. “I thought there was some intelligent play on our side, but they didn’t give us much room out there and it was a battle. I thought Kovacs was excellent tonight. She gave us a really gutsy performance. The back four was fantastic. (Goalie) Rachel Bedek (London, Ont.) was tidy and Gommeringer was Gommeringer. I thought Jessica King (Liverpool, England) was excellent as well.”
The Huskies had plenty of early-match possession and had TWU under pressure in the first few minutes, but were unable to garner much in the way of quality chances.
However, after the first 15 minutes, the Spartans turned the tides.
Gommeringer had a pair of brilliant chances, in the 21st and 25th minute, but on both occasions – the latter a point blank opportunity from 12 yards out – former Spartan goalie Cara Santaga came up with impressive saves.
But in the 31st minute, TWU broke through. Gommeringer sent a free kick into the box off the right flank and found a streaking Kovacs, who snuck in all alone in the back door and volleyed the ball home from five yards out.
“I find that I have scored off of Gommeringer’s kicks most of the time,” Kovacs said. “I feel I can time her kicks well because she has a sweet curve that comes in back post.”
Less than seven minutes later, the Spartans doubled their lead on a nearly identical play. Gommeringer, from the right side and about 30 yards out, curled a ball into the area and once again Kovacs was the first to find it, slamming it home for her second of the night.
“Obviously, the two free kicks were excellent,” Roxburgh said. “Gommeringer’s service was incredible and Kovacs is someone who is going to get on the end of those types of crosses. They were well-taken goals and that probably calmed our nerves.”
With a two-goal advantage, the Spartans looked to put up a defensive wall. And through the end of the first half and early in the second half, the Huskies chances were limited.
However, with Saskatchewan pushing to get back into the contest, in the 77th minute, Erica Hindmarsh nearly did just that. Taking advantage of a Spartans clearing miscue, Hindmarsh whipped a shot towards target from atop the box but her attempt scraped just past the left post.
But, following the close call, the Spartans tightened up the back end and did well to in playing for the final whistle.
Spartans goalie Bedek made three saves to earn the clean sheet while Santaga made four stops in a losing cause.
Game Notes: TWU had six shots on target to Saskatchewan’s three…both teams had nine total shots…TWU’s Kristen Santema (Coquitlam, B.C.) and Saskatchewan’s Erica Parenteau each were given yellow cards.