PREVIEW: Teams chasing uOttawa, Queen’s in U SPORTS OUA East Division

TORONTO, ON – After a successful summer break spent playing in League 1 Canada and various high-performance leagues, U SPORTS action in the OUA Eastern Divisionkicks off on Thursday.

As usual, tons of talent ply their trade at home in the university game. The most exciting part of it all is always seeing who steps up to fill the shoes of those who graduated and whether the traditional powerhouses dominate or if a dark horse can prevail.



And with a Canadian professional women’s league, Project Eight, set to kickoff in 2025, the stakes are only rising in U SPORTS and OUA soccer.

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

First, let’s look at how pre-season went, what storylines, teams, and players to watch, and what you can look forward to in the first couple weeks of the season.

If you’ve been following OUA women’s soccer over the last decade or so, you know that the East Division has been almost exclusively dominated by the Queen’s Gaels and Ottawa Gee-Gees.

The two programs are led by veteran coaches Dave McDowell and Steve Johnson, stalwarts of the women’s game in Kingston and Ottawa, respectively. They have produced OUA legends such as Laura Callender, Jenny Wolever, Christy Gray, Cece Way, Pilar Khoury, and Katherine Bearne while also pushing players to U SPORTS All-Star status nearly every season. 

Since winning a bronze medal at the U SPORTS Championships in 2022, uOttawa lost five players from the group that lofted them to OUA and FISU trophies.

Veteran centreback Kayla Kyle, midfielder Kat Delev, Forward Angelina Gendreau, defender Trinity Espirit, and Rookie of the Year Olivia Allen (6G, 1A) who transferred to the NCAA’s St Bonaventure University. 

Nevertheless, reigning U SPORTS Player of the Year Cassandra Provost (18G, 3A, OUA Record) is back. As is midfield maestro Soumaya Bouak, who spent some time with the Algerian national team this summer. Adrianne Devlin and Maya Smith will anchor the backline again, with GKs Cassidy Joslin and Juliann Lacasse battling it out for the starting position. 

Jenna Matsukobo, now of the uOttawa Gee-Gees (Robin Kasem/Queen’s Athletics)

However, a boost for the Gee-Gees is the addition of former Queen’s winger Jenna Matsukobo. The first-team All-Star winger transferred to attend medical school in Ottawa and will be the perfect person to provide service and create chances.     

Speaking of Queen’s, they lost Matsukobo (6G,10A) and goalscorer Cecilia Way (11G, 6A) who opted to turn pro in Germany this summer with FSV Mainz. Midfield general Tori Chia and centreback Jenna Leslie have also graduated. 

Queen’s must rely on OUA Rookie of the Year Seema Sakran (9G, 3A) and third-year Mattson Strickler (12G, 1A) to carry the offensive load. Last year’s OUA All-Stars Kendra Couto and Sophie Miranda are back too, ensuring the backline will be solid in front of Kristin Tynan, who trained with Everton of the WSL in the winter semester.

The battle for third and a potential playoff upset

While the top two teams will likely be set, three teams behind them have a real chance of battling it out for third or even causing an upset in the playoffs. 

The Toronto Varsity Blues have one of the best coaches in the league in Angelo Cavaluzzo, who spent the summer winning the League 1 Ontario Women’s title with Alliance United. 

Alliance United, the Toronto Varsity Blues-affiliated League 1 Ontario side (League 1 Canada)

His team has some question marks up top, though, as Captain Miranda Badovinac (6G), All-Canadian Karly Hellstrom (5G, 6A) and OUA All-Star Lindsay Bosveld (7G, 3A) all graduated. 

The central core of the team remains strong, with omnipresent midfielder Hannah Anderson and centreback duo Hannah Chown & Cassie Chan dominating at both ends of the pitch and coming off of solid L1O seasons. Pre-season hasn’t gone to plan as the Varsity Blues were on the receiving end of 1-0 losses to Western and McMaster, and their schedule isn’t the kindest to start the season.

(Toronto Varsity Blues Athletics)

While Toronto can’t really be considered a dark horse pick, the Nipissing Lakers and Carleton Ravens could be flying under the radar. 

Both squads will rely on key players returning, and both can build on strong campaigns in 2022. Carleton’s OUA All-Star, Team MVP, and goalkeeper Chloe Lachance-Soulard contributed to a stellar defensive record last fall, and midfielder Chloe Doiron played almost every minute, scoring two game-winners. 

(Marc Lafleur / Carleton Ravens)

Their pre-season record has been promising, with two wins over Concordia (4-0), and StFX (3-2). Nipissing, on the other hand, stood out offensively, with 41 goals scored in their 7-2-3 record. Their offensive firepower comes down to two vets – Cassidy Brooks (8G, 7A) and Jenn Milligan (11G, 8A). The Laker’s third OUA All-Star, Rylee Traicoff (3G, 3A) will be joined by top recruits Tori Patterson and Alicia McMurren, who tore it up in L1O Reserves this summer. Will Carleton and Nipissing finally break into the top three, or will they remain in the murky mid-table waters?

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

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