Laval edges UOIT in OT, punches ticket to CIS final

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The Laval Rouge et Or will play for the 2016 women’s soccer championship after a 2-1 overtime win over the UOIT Ridgebacks Friday evening, Nov. 11 on Raymond Field in Wolfville, N.S.

Joelle Gosselin’s (Quebec  City, Que.) goal off a goal-mouth scramble in the 11th minute of the first overtime period was the game-winner for second-seeded Laval, propelling the Rouge et Or into Sunday’s final against the winner of the second championship semifinal between fifth-seed Queen’s and top-seed UBC.

Laval struck first in regulation time when an errant UOIT pass inadvertently found its way into the Ridgebacks’ own goal. The 1-0 lead stood up for about nine minutes before UOIT forwards Taijah Henderson (Ajax, Ont.) and Shynice Williams (Mississauga, Ont.) teamed up for the equalizer, scored by Henderson.

The remainder of regulation time consisted mainly of Laval trying to crash the UOIT zone and create scoring opportunities, and the Ridgebacks doing a good job of neutralizing the Rouge et Or offense.

Finally, Laval’s persistence paid off early in the first of two 15-minute overtime periods. The Gosselin goal seemed to energize the Rouge et Or, who maintained an edge in play for the rest of the game.

Henderson was named UOIT’s Player of the Game, while third-year Laval defender Melissa Roy (Quebec City, Que.) got the nod for her team.

Asked afterward if the match was what Laval had expected, Roy said, “We’re in the national semifinals. You expect the other team to come out strong, and they did.”

In the first half, she said, the Rouge et Or found it difficult to get the ball out of their own end with any success. “In the second half, we did a lot better. Our game plan was to keep control of the ball. That went a lot better in the second half and in the extra time.”

After Gosselin’s go-ahead goal, “we knew we had to calm down.” The Rouge et Or were able to regain their defensive momentum and dominate the remainder of the extra session.

Roy acknowledged the victory felt good. The 2014 national champions, Laval was “disappointed” a year ago by failing to qualify for the championship game. As for the final on Sunday, she said, “It doesn’t matter who we end up playing. Our game plan is the same every game we play.”

The key to the final, she said, will be the same as it was against UOIT – to “put everything we have into it, and to really want it – play our best, and play to win.”

UOIT, meanwhile, will play in Sunday’s bronze medal game against the loser of the Queen’s-UBC semifinal. Saskatchewan and host Acadia will meet in Saturday’s consolation final.

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