T-Birds edge Axewomen 1-0 in entertaining game

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The UBC Thunderbirds are a step closer to repeating as CIS women’s soccer champions after a hard-fought 1-0 quarterfinal victory over the host Acadia Axewomen Thursday, Nov. 10 in Wolfville.

Second-year forward Amelia Crawford (Richmond, B.C.) opened the scoring 23:31 into the first half with what would prove to be the game’s only goal. Shayla Chorney (Vancouver, B.C.) assisted on the goal.

In an entertaining contest, both teams had their share of chances, with each team managing 11 shots. Both keepers, Marlee Maracle (Oakville, Ont.) for UBC and Emma Connell (Hampton, N.S.) for Acadia, had to be on their toes and they were, with Connell recording five saves and Maracle four.

The fourth-year UBC keeper earned Player of the Game honours for her team. Fourth-year striker Meghan Earle (Mt. Pearl, N.L.) was the Axewomen Player of the Game, but it could easily have gone to any one of several of her teammates, all of whom turned in inspired performances.

Speaking following the game, Maracle acknowledged there was pressure on the T-Birds, both as the tournament’s top seed and as the defending champions.

“I definitely think we put pressure on ourselves as the defending champs,” she said. As well, “knowing we were playing the home team, and playing on their field, we dealt with the pressure really well.”

Maracle added: “This was the first time we had seen Acadia play. We wanted to play our game, treat it like any other game, and we held them off.”

To the suggestion that the Axewomen had given UNB all they could handle, Maracle said, “Absolutely. Every team here is gunning for a berth in the next round,” and that Acadia had the advantage of “playing at home, in front of their home crowd.”

Scoring a goal early “definitely helped,” she said. “We had gotten to host last year, and were able to win. We knew how Acadia was feeling. We came at them hard and fast, and stuck to our game plan.”

“Everybody on the team gave it everything they had, really emptied the tank,” fifth-year Acadia striker Kinsella Noseworthy-Smith (Wolfville, N.S.) said after the game. “I’m so proud of all of them.”

Noseworthy-Smith acknowledged the Axewomen “were expecting a faster game,” but at the same time, “nothing we weren’t able to keep up with. We expected intensity, and to have to step up. UBC brought a great game, and we had a real blast playing” (in front of an appreciative hometown crowd).

With the win, UBC advances to a semifinal matchup with the Queen’s Gaels Friday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The Axewomen, meanwhile, will play a consolation semifinal Friday at 2:30 against a familiar opponent – the StFX X-Women, 2-1 shootout winners over Acadia in the AUS final.

“We emptied the tank tonight, and we plan to do the same thing again tomorrow,” Noseworthy-Smith said. “I know we can do it. It’s going to be fun, and we’re excited to play.”

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