LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western University rookie forward Natalie Arnett scored the lone goal of the match to lead the Spartans to a 1-0 victory over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the opening match of the Canada West Final Four Friday evening at Rogers Field in Langley, B.C.
The victory sends the No. 2 ranked Spartans to tomorrow’s gold medal match and to Quebec City to defend their back-to-back CIS championships. The loss sends the Huskies to Saturday’s bronze medal match.
“You know that was a tricky game, I want to give credit to the University of Saskatchewan, you know they did a great job of finding little pockets when we got dispossessed or gave away the ball needlessly; it’s too bad we didn’t get one of our earlier chances,” commented TWU head coach Graham Roxburgh. “I thought we started really well and our game plan worked, a couple times where we got behind him and Izzy’s a bit unlucky to ring that thing off the bar and Jessica had one or two chances, so we’re a bit unlucky that we didn’t get up, but obviously we had a nervy game I’m a bit speechless because I’ve been yelling for the past 90 minutes, but relieved to be done that one.”
The lone goal came in the 64th minute when Arnett took a through ball up the middle of the park from midfielder Jenna DiNunzio. Saskatchewan’s keeper Cara Santaga made a move to come out for the ball, but Arnett beat the Huskies keeper to the ball and finished to the right side to put TWU up 1-0.
“Di Nunzio keeps getting better and better as the seasons been on, she’s played a world class ball you couldn’t draw it better than anything she’s done,” commented Roxburgh on the lone goal of the match. “Nat got a pace behind and had a fantastic finish,”
The Spartans had the better of the opportunities in the first half. TWU outshot Saskatchewan 6-3. The Spartans Isabella Di Trocchio had three shots hitting a cross bar and forcing Huskies Santaga to make a diving save midway through the first half. TWU’s Jessica King also had two shots on goal from inside the box, which Santaga stopped. If not for the play of Santaga the Huskies would have been down one or two goals at the end of the half instead of knotted at 0-0.
Saskatchewan forward Jenelle Zapski had the Huskies lone shot on goal in the opening 45.
In the second half the Spartans continued to have the better of the play, which eventually built to Arnett’s goal. “I was just really excited to get on, I haven’t played for a while, that’s the most minutes I’ve had and I was able to take advantage of it,” said Arnett after the game.
After the goal TWU started to play more defensive, which allowed Saskatchewan more time and space in the centre of the park. As a result the Huskies were able to get a number of balls into the Spartans penalty area. Saskatchewan, who would finish with six total shots and three on goal, had their best opportunities in the final seven minutes of the match. TWU keeper Christina Oliverio stopped Huskies Jennifer Miller in the 84th minute and shots by Erica Hindmarsh in the 86th minute and Jenelle Zapski extra time were just off target.
TWU finished the night with 13 total shots of which seven were on target.
TWU’s Christina Oliverio made three saves for the shutout win, while Saskatchewan’s Santaga made six saves in the loss.
Match Notes: Saskatchewan’s last played in the CW Final Four in 1999…TWU will be looking for their sixth Canada West Championship tomorrow and their sixth CIS title next week at Laval University in Quebec City…the Spartans were without all-star forward Krista Gommeringer, who was sitting out a suspension…the gold medal match is set for 7 p.m., while the bronze is scheduled for 5 p.m.