PREVIEW: Western’s limited turnover favours them in OUA West

TORONTO, ON – The Western Mustangs have been the top team in the U SPORTS OUA women’s soccer West Division for the last several years, and while title challengers come from the East, the Mustangs look favoured for another stellar season

While the East Division kicks off their season on Thursday, teams in the West will see the pitch for the first time on Friday. After strong League 1 seasons for several players, this university season presents a special opportunity to raise their reputation ahead of the inaugural season of Project Eight, Canada’s new professional women’s soccer league set to debut in 2025 

As usual, 49 Sports has you covered with women’s soccer coverage from former Guelph Gryphon AC Lang twice a month. 


It seems as though, once again the Mustangs will dominate as they usually do. At least, that’s what their pre-season performances, roster makeup, and historic results tell us. 

Western went on the road to beat the Toronto Varsity Blues and Queen’s Gaels 1-0, and then finished off the TMU Bold 4-0 at home in pre-season. The Mustangs are looking solid under the leadership of last year’s Coach of the Year, Martin Painter, who is benefitting from a lack of squad turnover. 

Hannah Vicker (Western Athletics)

Last year’s Team MVP Hannah Vickers (7G, 5GWG) is back, as are last year’s first-team All-Stars Mackenzie Bilotta (4G) and Madena Birani. They are joined by fifth-year forward Natalie Abbate (2G, 2A), and midfielders Reese Fowler (4G, 1A) and Maddy Skinner (1G, 5A). Dual-athlete and All-Canadian Avarie Thomas, and 2nd-team All-Star Maya Lankin, make up the core of one of the strongest defensive lines in the province. It’s safe to say that Western will dominate, but the million-dollar question is whether they can lift that elusive U SPORTS OUA title at the end of the season.

Beyond the Mustangs, the York Lions (7-2-3 record) and Guelph Gryphons (6-2-4) typically comprise the top three. This year, both squads will be dealing with losing key midfielders – Jotam Chouhan and Cloey Uddenberg, respectively. 


Last year’s Western Division MVP Chouhan (5G, 2A) graduated, while Uddenberg transferred to the NCAA’s Southern Alabama, where she’s already off to a hot start. Additionally, the Lions will have to find someone who can fill top goalscorer Nia Fleming-Thompson’s shoes, who is also headed to the NCAA after tearing it up in her rookie season (9G). The good news is the Mitchell sisters (Kalifornia and Brook-Lynne) are back, as is first-team All-Star defender Bianca Jack. The Gryphons will look to Captain Sydney Vanderhoef, forward Olivia Brown (9G), and 2nd-Team All-Star Christina Gomes (3G, 1A) to make a push for their first Final Four Appearance since 2017.

Dark horse picks provide intrigue

If you’re looking for a dark horse pick for 2023, there are a few promising options. 

The McMaster Marauders had a good pre-season, defeating the Waterloo Warriors (2:0), Toronto (1:0), and Mohawk College (3-1), despite adjusting to recently-named interim head coach Garret Peters (London’s League 1 Ontario head coach). Peters will be impressed with the pre-season performances and can build on a strong defensive core in centreback Bryana Caldwell, who is also dangerous in front of goal (4G), and keeper Ali Mudie, both were 2nd-Team All-Stars in 2022. The Marauders also secured one of the highest-rated recruits in the country in Ravina Braich, who was ranked #16 in FTF’s Top 100. She already made her presence known, scoring a goal in pre-season. 

Ali Mudie (McMaster Athletics)

The Brock Badgers and Windsor Lancers will likely be in the running for the last two playoff spots. The Badgers are going into their second season under head coach Carli Tingstad, who led the team to a fifth place finish in 2022. Key players Sabrina Bisante (5G), Makenna Williamson (1st-Team All-Star) and defender Grace Tawil were three of four players to start all 12 games last U SPORTS season. 

Makenna Williamson (Stephen Leithwood/Brock Athletics)

Meanwhile, Windsor’s coach, Daniel Mendonca, will look to repeat last year’s success when he lead the Lancers to their first post-season appearance since 2016. Mendonca has built a squad from the Windsor area, which has been playing together with Tecumseh in League 1 all summer. The team will be looking to forward Kailyn Robertson (5G) to provide the goals, while facing the tough task of replacing veterans Lauren Gellner and Grace Melick (playing in Australia). In their absence, All-Star Kat Campana and midfielder Emma Beaulieu will have to step up this fall.

If you missed it, check out our U SPORTS OUA East Division preview HERE. 

Must-Watch OUA Games

Aug. 31 – Toronto v Queens – OUA TV

Sept. 3 – TMU vs Nipissing – OUA TV

Sept. 4 – Guelph vs Western

Sept. 8 – Ottawa vs U of T – OUA TV

Sept. 10 – Brock vs McMaster

Pre-Season Results

Carleton 4-0 Concordia

Western 1-0 Toronto

Ottawa 1-1 Dartmouth

Ontario Tech 3-0 Algoma

TMU 2-0 York 

Concordia 0-1 Queens

Centennial College 1-1 RMC

Western 1-0 Queens

Ottawa 0-3 St FX

McMaster 2-0 Waterloo

McMaster 1-0 Toronto

TMU 0:4 Western

Montreal Queens

St Clair 4-1 RMC

StFX 2-3 Carleton

Mohawk 1-3 McMaster

Humber 1-1 TMU

Leave a Reply