QUÉBEC CITY, QC – The dream of three is alive and well for the uOttawa Gee-Gees, and if Quebec were an independent nation, the U SPORTS leading goalscorer would have goals in three countries this season.
After leading the OUA with 18 goals through 12 matches and scoring at the FISU Americas tournament in Mexico, both of which were won by the Gee-Gees, it seemed near-inevitable that U SPORTS Player of the Year, Cassandra Provost, would write her name among the stars at the U SPORTS National Championship.
It didn’t start that way though, with the physical striker left isolated and shut down by TWU’s centreback pairing of Tilly James and Jessica Vance, yet it only takes a moment for the best players to make their mark.
In the 79th minute, Provost got the ball at the top of the penalty area and quickly turned, leaving James out of the picture before striking a driven shot past TWU’s Hannah Miller and into the back of the net.
Saluting the crowd in celebration, the Gee-Gees were about to say hello to the second round and a semifinal date with the Montreal Carabins.
“I think we did well overall and had good chances; I finished on that goal, but everyone did a good job, and we couldn’t finish like we wanted to,” Provost told 49 Sports. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy today after winning MVP yesterday; everyone knew who I was, so I knew they would be on me the whole game, so I tried different things and well, that worked.”
The TWU Spartans had the run of play in the first half but not the chances that Ottawa did. While head coach TWU Graham Roxburgh tinkered with his eleven, bringing in experienced midfielder Makenna Dietrich, there wasn’t an outstanding chance that truly pushed Ottawa’s goalkeeper, Cassidy Joslin, to her limits.
An attacking duo, Sophie Crowther and Anna Dunn, linked up well together, providing each other with shooting opportunities on target, but neither could solve Joslin between the sticks.
While Ottawa didn’t get any shots against Hannah Miller in the first 45 minutes, their chances were closer than TWU’s In the ninth minute, U SPORTS Player of the Year Cassandra Provost cut into the box to get on the end of a cross from Angelina Gendreau, only for her one-touch volley to fly over the bar.
Less than 10 minutes later, in the 18th minute, Gendreau was at it again, this time firing a curled shot that appeared destined for the top corner and highlight reels, before cracking off the bar and out of play.
Through the first half, neither side risked much with defences jumping up in the play or taking low-percentage passes, but both sides appeared capable of solving each other and just a stroke of luck away from goals.
In the second, the match closed up even more, with neither able to penetrate the penalty area and create any threatening chances. As time ticked on, it appeared destined for an extra 30 minutes, maybe even penalties.
Yet when James took an extra step and Provost’s strike nestled into the bottom corner, the Gee-Gees had their lead, one they wouldn’t give up, despite bending but not breaking under late TWU pressure.
“That came as advertised; we knew TWU was going to be a difficult and physical opponent with a lot of athleticism,” uOttawa head coach Steve Johnson said. “ I like how we defended today because we didn’t give up too many clear-cut chances.”
A semifinal with the Montreal Carabins
Coming out of the quarter-finals, the Gee-Gees proved they could win close games against those within title contention. Yet, the job won’t get any easier in the semifinal, as they take on the Montreal Carabins, who put in a stingy, professional performance towards a 1-0 win against the Calgary Dinos in the first quarter-final. Meanwhile, TWU faces Calgary in the consolation semifinal
For Provost, however, it’s a matchup she’s confident with, especially since she starred in the PLSQ and is familiar with Carabins’ personnel.
“They’re going to be different, I know how they play and what they’re going to do, so it was maybe easier for me to adjust, but it will be hard because they’re good players and a good team,” Provost said. “It’s people I’ve played with and played against.