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Tigers rest after surprise season

Women’s soccer winless in 12th nationals appearance

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj via McGill Athletics

The Tigers were seen as obvious underdogs entering the CIS quarterfinals. The predictions, as it turns out, would hold true.

Dalhousie’s women’s soccer team bowed out of the nationals this past weekend at McGill University, stumbling 3 – 2 to the University of Ottawa in the quarterfinals Nov. 10 and then, after being relegated to the consolation, dropping a 2 – 0 decision versus the University of Alberta Pandas the next day to be eliminated from the tournament.

Riding on the momentum of the AUS banner they won a few days earlier, the Tigers came out strong against the Gee-Gees, controlling the flow of play and putting balls to the net. In the 42nd minute this led to a goal for striker Doriana Homerski, providing Dal with the lead as the first half came to a close.

The start of the second marked a change in Ottawa. Moving up the side with ease, they began an offensive onslaught. The Gee-Gees managed three goals in under six minutes, which speaks not only to their offensive skill, but the breakdown of Dal’s defence as well.

After the third goal the Tigers returned to their style of play, controlling the ball in the midfield and creating chances. Homerski added one more to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, but the damage was already done. Ottawa would advance to the semifinals and later win the bronze medal, whereas Dal would meet Alberta, the loser of a quarterfinal against Queen’s, the eventual national champions.

The Dal and Alberta match would be the final game of the year for the Tigers as they sat on the wrong side of a 2 – 0 result. Alberta won their next game to finish fifth.

The success of this Tigers team is not to be undermined by their failure to win a CIS medal. Representing the AUS is an impressive feat in itself, as is almost defeating the team that would later win bronze, the Gee-Gees.


Bright future

Dal soccer fans can expect this team to make another strong run at a CIS title next season. Captain Rieka Santilli is expected to be the only fifth-year player on what will once again be another young team.

The ability to retain almost their entire roster is definitely appealing to coach Jack Hutchison, who can now add further skill to his bench for next year. Putting their rookie seasons behind them, players like Homerski and Kristy McGregor-Bales will be looked to as future leaders of the team, and will be expected to perform as so.

Dal’s defence has been good this year, but not great. Poor play by the backline has resulted in botched games—refer to paragraph four for a reminder. McGregor-Bales has to trust her defensive partners and pass the ball, rather than simply kicking it to an open midfield, which causes a lot of turnovers. Andi Vanderlann will need to play at the same level as she did in the later half of the season, and Hutchison may want to clone her for the other side of the pitch. Behind her, Taryn McKenna may be fighting for her spot as starting keeper. A lack of consistency may lead Hutchison to start Shannon Junor instead—next preseason will be the determining factor.

An addition that is necessary for Dalhousie to be a top contender is a high profile striker. Pamela Krieg and Homerski are able to score, but not in the volume required of a CIS medalling team. They are best suited at scoring from shallow points in the box. Bianca Jakisa is a strong striker, but not a goal scorer. Jakisa’s speed is her asset to the team, and is responsible for many of her goals this year (with many more chances).

Simply put, the Tigers need a 10-plus scorer for next season. If they can find that talent for next year, or if one of their strikers develops into that player, this team is golden.

Andrew Johnson, Staff Contributor
Andrew Johnson, Staff Contributor
Hailing from Saint John, Andrew followed his frosh leader to a Gazette contributor's meeting in his first week at Dalhousie and didn't look back. He took on the women's soccer beat, attending games at Wickwire no matter the weather and watching the webcast whenever the Tigers were on a different pitch. He does not claim any responsibility for the Tigers winning the league championship during his first season covering the team.

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