Ottawa, ON – The OUA soccer playoffs can be as beautiful as they can be harsh.
If you’re the team that gets the goal you need when you need it, you will be remembered as heroes. If you’re the team that doesn’t, then all you get to really think about is what might have been.
The Carleton Ravens entered their first-round matchup with the Nipissing Lakers as the number four seed in the OUA East, hoping to go deep into the postseason. One hundred twenty minutes later, though, however cruel the reality is, a 1-0 extra-time loss to Nipissing gets to serve as a reminder for the next year that hope can only take you so far if you can’t capitalize when you need to.
The Ravens and Lakers each entered the 2022 OUA playoffs on a high, with Carleton taking the 4-0 win over TMU in their regular season finale while Nipissing took the 4-3 win over Ontario Tech. Yet, on Wednesday, it was as if both offences forgot to arrive at TAAG Park, as neither team registered a shot in the first half.
“You know, I thought we should have been up two-nil at halftime,” Carleton head coach Dom Oliveri said. “Lauren [Illman] missed two chances in the first half that normally she buries.”
It was more of the same in the second half, with the Lakers forcing a pair of saves from first-year Carleton keeper Chloe Lachance-Soulard while Carleton got one save out of Nipissing sophomore goalie Taylor Mitchener.
“We had moments in the second half where we should have scored, and we didn’t,” Oliveri said.
With the score still locked at 0-0, the game headed into extra-time where in the 109th minute, an Annika Nolte corner kick found the head of Cassidy Brooks in the box, who buried it past Lachance-Soulard.
“Playoff games come down to execution; that’s what it comes down to all the teams are good,’ Oliveri said. “We didn’t score on chances we had, and we didn’t execute on a set piece we needed to defend.”
Ultimately the Lakers held on for the final ten minutes, ending Carleton’s season and earning themselves a trip to Richardson Stadium to play the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday.
For the Ravens, though, their season is done. It’s in the moments just after the season ends that it might be hard to feel beyond disappointment, but after watching his program go from two wins and missing the playoffs a season ago, coach Oliveri struck an almost hopeful tone.
“Twelve months ago, we had two wins,” Oliveri said.
“So to do what this group’s done, to come in fit, they came in ready for the season; they came in motivated to build this program and take it to the next level, so I can only thank them for that.”