TORONTO, ON – The OUA women’s soccer season flies by every year. Only seven weeks after kicking off the season, the final few days of regular season play begins now, and as always, it’s set up to be a dramatic finish. Here are four storylines to keep an eye on as the weekend unfolds.
Marauders travel to London to challenge the Mustangs
At the other end of the table, the Mustangs and Marauders are in for an epic top-of-table clash on Sunday afternoon that could determine the OUA West division regular season. The Mustangs currently have a tight two-point lead over McMaster.
The Marauders beat Windsor 3-2 at home on Friday night thanks to a brace from top-scorer Alena Spehar, and a goal and assist by standout Emilie Calabrese. The win also clinched top two spt, meaning a first-round bye which is enormously important in a condensed schedule.
They maintained their strong home record (5 wins in 6 games, 12 goals for, 2 against) but will travel to London to face their toughest test of the season in the most crucial game.
Of course, the Mustangs will be confident in their ability to avoid defeat on home turf and put the Marauders in their place, so to speak. Western’s experienced backline, anchored by defenders Avarie Thomas, Maya Lankin, Angelica Galluzzo, and keeper Sophie St Croix (6GA, 8 clean sheets), and their 5-0 home record are an excellent reason to believe they’ll top the league again this season.
In addition to their defensive abilities, they can rely on a core group of offensive players who will be hard to shut down for 90 minutes. Reese Fowler (4G, 2A), Mackenzie Bilotta (3G, 1A), and Alessia Breda (3G, 1A) are among nine Mustang goalscorers.
If there’s any team equipped to handle Western’s offensive threats it’s the Marauders, who kept six clean sheets and maintained a 0.82 goals-against-average. McMaster are undoubtedly the surprise team of the season, largely thanks to their veteran core of players and the performance of interim head coach Garret Peters.
Having clinched the playoffs a few weeks ago, players have no reason not to aim high, as two wins would see them win the West Division. It will be nearly impossible for Guelph to pass them in the standings, even in the case of two losses this weekend, due to McMaster’s superior goal differential.
York and Brock fight for the final playoff spot
The top six is already set in the OUA East division; TMU is six points behind Ontario Tech with only one game left. In the West division, two teams directly compete for the sixth and final spot this weekend. Brock held York to a 1-1 draw in St. Catharines on Friday night and goes into the weekend with a single-point advantage.
The Lions will host the Badgers at their Stadium on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. kickoff on OUA TV). Unless York wins, they will not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
With only two wins and a goal differential of +2, the typically dominant Lions will be disappointed with their season, which, in all fairness, appears to be a bit of a “rebuild” year after losing key players.
After starting the season poorly, last year’s regular season runners-up had a tough stretch of games against Western, Guelph, and McMaster. Part of the challenge has been the lack of a player who can consistently find the back of the net; no player has more than three goals. That being said, attackers, Erica Di Matteo and Maia Torelli are finding their groove as of late, combining for three of the Lions’ last four goals, securingfour crucial points in the process.
The Brock Badgers control their fate as they look to secure a second consecutive playoff-berth under coach Carli Tingstad. They nearly finished it at home, leading most of the game 1-0 before York’s Dylana Makaowksi scored in the 87th minute. A tie on the road is enough to qualify and the Badgers will rely on key offensive players Sabrina Bisante (5G, 1A) and Parris (4G, 3A), but will need demonstrate teamwork and character in the most important game of the season. It’s fair to say that both these teams will be highly motivated from start to finish.
Queen’s and Ottawa trip North to decide First place
The Queen’s and Ottawa’s domination of the East division remains inevitable. The top two teams have been in lockstep all season, dramatically outscoring their opponents. Between the two, the Gaels and Gee-Gees have scored an astonishing 97 goals while only conceding four.
Yes, you read that right.
The Gaels are second at +46 goal differential, and the Gee-Gees top the league at +47. The only time either side has been kept off the scoresheet was when they split points in an intense 0-0 draw on September 24th.
To decide the title of regular season champion, it’ll likely come down to goal differential in the event that they both win their final two games of the season. Ironically, they face the very same opponents in Nipissing and Laurentian as they travel to the Northeastern part of the province on the final weekend.
The question is, who can outscore the other? Both teams have scored more than four goals on six occasions and boast some of the best-attacking players in the country.
Ottawa’s star forward and reigning U SPORTS Player of the Year, Cassandra Provost recently broke her own outrageous OUA record for goals scored in a single season (22!!). She is supported by wingers Jenna Matsukubo (9A, 4G) and Nibo Dlamini (8A, 5G), completing one of the most fearsome attacking trios in the Canadian university game.
The Gaels’ squad boasts equally dangerous offensive threats in Strickler (11G, 5A), Seema Sakran (9G, 4A), and rookie Ledia Naihin (8G, 4A) who’ve scored more goals between them than eight other East Division teams have scored in total. One thing is for sure and it’s that the scorelines will likely get ugly as both teams push for that top spot.
Hosting duties are up for grabs in both Divisions
While the top two spots are likely locked in, the remaining four spots could still change around meaningfully. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds have home turf advantage in their mid-week first-round matches which could make a big difference. Currently, Guelph and Windsor occupy those two spots in the West, and Nipissing and Carleton in the East.
Guelph is likely a lock to host, considering they play Algoma again and beat them 3-0 on Friday. Because Windsor dropped points, they’ll need to avoid defeat in their final match against Laurier, who have the same record and a better goal differential. Laurier’s 2:1 win in the Battle of Waterloo put them in a good position to beat the Lancers on the final day.
In the East, Nipissing has the most challenging task ahead as they host Queen’s and Ottawa.
Carleton will want to take advantage of any dropped points. The Ravens are within two points and play Trent, another struggling team, and Ontario Tech, who are in sixth.
Fifth-place Toronto takes on RMC in a game they’ll be heavily favoured in; unfortunately for them it’s their only game of the weekend. They can jump to 20 points but will have to hope that Carleton doesn’t win any games to have any chance of hosting. The Ridgebacks only have a tiny chance, as all teams ahead of them would have to lose their games.
When temperatures drop, things tend to heat up in OUA women’s soccer. It’s time for the final push to make the playoffs or top the table. As usual, the storylines do not disappoint and we hope you’ll tune into some local university soccer.
Saturday October 21st
Ottawa at Nipissing 12 pm
Carleton at Trent 1 pm
Sunday October 22nd
Queen’s at Nipissing 12 pm
Trent at TMU 1 pm
RMC at Toronto 1 pm
Laurier at Windsor 1 pm
Brock at York 1 pm
Carleton at Ontario Tech 1 pm