LANGLEY, British Columbia – Saskatchewan midfielder Rebecca Weckworth scored the game’s only goal in the 75th minute and the Huskies advanced to the Canada West semifinals with a 1-0 win over Victoria in Thursday’s quarter-final at Chase Office Field.
Coming off an Eric Hindmarsh free kick, the ball landed at the feet of Weckworth at the back post and the fourth-year Saskatoon product buried what would stand as the game-winning tally.
Huskies goalie Kyleigh Vause made three saves, including a leaping stop late in the game on a Vikes free kick, to preserve the clean sheet and earn a spot amongst the Canada West final four.
“The first 20 minutes we were a little bit nervous,” said Saskatchewan coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton. “We’re a young team and I thought being on this stage has been a learning curve for us all season. But once we got settled, I thought the last 20 minutes of the first half and definitely the second half, we played to our standards and our philosophy.
“Our girls put their bodies on the line and luckily, we happened to be the team that scored. But give Victoria credit. They’re a tough team and they’re very physical and very direct, which probably didn’t suit our style. But the girls came through and we’re extremely excited to play one more game.”
With the victory, Saskatchewan will face the No. 2-ranked Trinity Western Spartans in the first of two semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Langley. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. (PT) and the game can be seen live at www.canadawest.tv.
Saturday’s match-up will mark the second consecutive year that Saskatchewan has taken on TWU in the Canada West semifinals and third straight year the Huskies have seen the Spartans in the post-season. Saskatchewan has lost all three of those games, falling 1-0 in the semifinals in both 2014 and 2015 and by a 2-0 count in the quarter-finals in 2013.
“We’re excited to play Trinity Western,” said Barandica-Hamilton. “They’re obviously a good team. You look at their record and they’re winners and they’re always contenders. But at the same time, we fear no one. We’re going to come out and try to play our game and we’ll see what happens. We’ve lost to them three years in a row, so maybe the fourth time is our lucky day. But we have massive respect for what (TWU coach) Graham (Roxburgh) does and we’re just here to enjoy it and see how far we can go.”
Taneil Gay had a quality chance to put the Huskies on the board in the 15th minute when she ripped a shot towards goal, but her effort went just wide left. Gay had another chance in the 33rd minute, but her attempt from the middle of the 18-yard box was stymied by Vikes goalie Meaghan Storie, who finished with three saves.
The Vikes best chance of the first half came off the foot of Elise Butler in the 36th minute, but this time a leaping Vause deflected the attempt clear.
With the Huskies pressing, Weckworth nearly scored, putting a hard shot on target from atop the box, but Storie dove to her left to make a highlight-reel stop.
With 15 minutes to play, Weckworth finally broke through for Saskatchewan. Hindmarsh put the ball into the area and Meagan Manson got a foot to it first, before Weckworth touched it in from in tight.
Victoria’s Sarah Douglas nearly equalised in the 85th minute when she whipped a free kick in on goal, but Vause got just enough of it to deflect it off the crossbar and over the net.
Game Notes: The Huskies had a 13-7 edge in shots…the other semifinal will feature MacEwan taking on UBC, who beat Manitoba in the first quarter-final of the day.