After capturing the Gladys Bean Memorial Trophy for a record-breaking sixth time last season, the No.1 UBC Thunderbirds enter this year’s national tournament as the winningest women’s soccer program in CIS national championship history.
The eight-team tournament, hosted by Acadia University for the first time since 2000 and the third time overall, concludes next Sunday at Raymond Field with the gold-medal final set for 4:30 p.m. Atlantic Time. All 11 games from the competition will be webcast live on Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1.
Rounding out the 2016 draw are the second-seeded Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champions), No. 3 UOIT Ridgebacks (OUA champs), No. 4 StFX X-Women (AUS champs), No. 5 Queen’s Gaels (OUA finalists), No. 6 Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West finalists), No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West bronze medallists) and No. 8 Acadia Axewomen (hosts/AUS finalists).
Thursday’s quarter-final matchups include Laval vs. Saskatchewan at 12 p.m. Atlantic Time, UOIT vs. Trinity Western at 2:30 p.m., StFX vs. Queen’s at 5 p.m., and UBC vs. Acadia at 7:30 p.m.
In addition to UBC, Trinity Western (5), Queen’s (3), Acadia (1), and Laval (1) have also hoisted the Gladys Bean Trophy in the past.
The Thunderbirds, who last year triumphed on home turf in Vancouver, have received the top seed for the national tourney after repeating as Canada West conference champions. UBC, which finished 13 points behind first-place Trinity Western, won four straight playoff games, capped off by a 3-0 shutout of the previously-undefeated Spartans in the gold medal game. Trinity Western, meanwhile, had UBC’s number this season until the final, settling for a 1-1 draw on Sept. 17 before recording a 2-1 victory on Oct. 14.
“Our experience playing Trinity Western, the host of Canada West, on their home field, in front of their home fans really gave the taste of playing in a difficult situation,” said UBC head coach Jesse Symons. “That will serve us well when we open the national championship against Acadia, the host team.”
“It is always a privilege to reach this stage of the season,” said Trinity Western head coach Graham Roxburgh. “We know the competition is really fierce with some outstanding programs representing all four conferences. The season has been a wonderful journey with an amazing group of players and people, so we are delighted to have extended our season another week, and hope that we can grow as a group through this experience.”
After conceding the conference semifinal to the Spartans, Saskatchewan made school history at the Canada West Select Six. The Huskies, who went 8-3-3 in the regular season, edged out MacEwan 1-0 to advance to its first national championship.
“We are extremely excited as a program to make our first trip to the CIS Championship, especially considering the tough and competitive road that we have had to take to represent Canada West,” said Saskatchewan head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton. “For us, it is about setting a winning culture, setting program expectations and making sure we enjoy each moment of this week. But having said that, we aren’t here just to make up the numbers, we expect to compete, showcase what our program is trying to build in Saskatchewan and represent the quality of the Canada West Conference as best as possible. We look forward to competing against the best eight women’s soccer programs in the country and welcome the challenges that it will bring!”
In Ontario, UOIT also punched their ticket to their first national tournament in program history. The Ridgebacks, led by OUA coach of the year Peyvand Mossavat, claimed the school’s first OUA title in any sport with a 1-0 win over Queen’s. The victory was UOIT’s third straight this season over the Gaels, who were looking for their second straight championship and third in the last six years.
“Anytime you get an opportunity to go to a national championship it is exciting for the team and university,” said Mossavat, who was recently named bench boss of the 2017 Summer Universiade squad. “Our girls have had an incredible year winning a divisional title and OUA championship, which were both firsts in program history. We’re excited to compete at nationals and measure ourselves against the country’s best.”
“We’re excited to be returning to the national stage in what looks like a very competitive field at Acadia,” said Queen’s head coach Dave McDowell. “Our team has had another strong season in the OUA, and we look forward to showing what we are capable of against the best in Canada.”
Laval, the top-ranked team in the nation for the bulk the regular season, earned the lone RSEQ berth after seeing their record 34-game unbeaten streak come to an end at last year’s CIS championship. The 2014 CIS champions, who lay claim to the top spot in the rankings since the second week of the campaign on the strength of a 13-0-1 record, dismantled UQAM 6-0 in the conference semifinal followed by a 1-0 win over Montreal in the gold medal match.
“We know we will meet a good team,” said Rouge et Or head coach Helder Duarte. “Last year at the nationals, we were the most technical team, the team that controls and circulates the ball best, and we think it will be the case again this year. We have a team that looks a lot like the one from last year, but obviously with more experience. In an elimination game, anything can happen and no one thinks it will be easy. Our student-athletes do not take anything lightly and they will be ready.”
Last but not least, StFX denied Acadia’s bid to enter the national championship on home field as conference champs, earning the AUS banner via a 2-1 decision on penalty kicks. Both teams pulled off upsets en route to the national championship, eliminating Cape Breton and Memorial having finished third and fourth, respectively.
“We’re very pleased to represent our school and conference in the national tournament and we’re keen to test ourselves against some of the best university teams in the country,” StFX head coach Graham Kennedy. “We’re going to play one game at a time, play smart, play hard and see what happens.”
“Certainly we are disappointed to lose the AUS final in penalty kicks but we also proved a learned a lot about ourselves this past weekend in coming back from behind three times,” said Acadia head coach Amit Batra. “The CIS tournament is filled with the champions and runner-ups from across the country and it’s going to be an exciting event and an opportunity for all the teams to test themselves against the best in the country.”
GLADYS BEAN MEMORIAL TROPHY CHAMPIONS:
2015 UBC (at UBC)
2014 Laval (at Laval)
2013 Trinity Western (at Toronto)
2012 Trinity Western (at Victoria)
2011 Queen’s (at McGill)
2010 Queen’s (at UPEI)
2009 Trinity Western (at Toronto)
2008 Trinity Western (at Trinity Western)
2007 Cape Breton (at Cape Breton)
2006 UBC (at Victoria)
2005 Victoria (at Alberta)
2004 Trinity Western (at Montreal / McGill)
2003 UBC (at Montreal / McGill)
2002 UBC (at Alberta)
2001 Alberta (at Carleton)
2000 Dalhousie (at Acadia)
1999 Dalhousie (at Laurier)
1998 Calgary (at Victoria)
1997 Alberta (at Laval)
1996 Ottawa (at Dalhousie)
1995 Laurier (at Carleton)
1994 Dalhousie (at Alberta)
1993 UBC (at McGill)
1992 Laurier (at McMaster)
1991 McMaster (at Guelph)
1990 Acadia (at UBC)
1989 Alberta (at Acadia)
1988 Queen’s (at UBC)
1987 UBC (at McGill)
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (all times ATLANTIC TIME)
Wednesday, Nov. 9
19:00 All-Canadian Awards Banquet (Festival Theatre, Acadia University)
Thursday, Nov. 10
12:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 2 Laval vs. No. 7 Saskatchewan (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
14:30 Quarter-final 2: No. 3 UOIT vs. No. 6 Trinity Western (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
17:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 4 StFX vs. No. 5 Queen’s (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
19:30 Quarter-final 4: No. 1 UBC vs. No. 8 Acadia (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
Friday, Nov. 11
12:00 Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2 (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
14:30 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4 (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
17:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2 (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
19:30 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4 (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)
Saturday, Nov. 12
12:00 5th-place game (Bell Aliant Fibe TV 1)