Whatever you do, don’t buy Dave McDowell any ties for Christmas. He’s received quite enough of them this fall, thank you.
As a result, the Queen’s Golden Gaels coach will take his team to Toronto Wednesday for an Ontario University Athletics first-round women’s soccer playoff game.
The Gaels finished tied with the Toronto Blues for fourth place in the East division after, yes, a scoreless tie Sunday with the Laurentian Voyageurs. Both Queen’s and Toronto ended the year with 28 points, but the Blues got the nod for fourth place by virtue of having won nine games, two more than the Gaels.
Though a team that lost just twice in 16 regular-season games—7-2-7, ending the year on an eight-game undefeated streak—could finish with only a share of fourth place can be traced to all those ties the Gaels played this year. Ultimately, they doomed a team that beat and, yes, tied Toronto during the regular year to travel for its division quarter-final.
In a game at Miklas-McCarney Field, the Gaels didn’t permit Laurentian, which finished second in the division at 9-4-3, to put a shot on goal but they managed just four of their own, all of which were stopped by Voyageurs goalkeeper Richele Greenwood, who made a particularly fine save on a first-half strike by Micah Vermeer.
The tie followed a 3-1 Homecoming win Saturday over the Nipissing Lakers that had put the Gaels in position to move past Toronto for the right to host Wednesday’s game. With a strong wind at their backs, the Gaels got the only goal of the first half from Tara Bartram, who headed a ball into the Lakers’ goal from about 30 yards out.
Queen’s had two splendid scoring chances in the second half, on one of which Regiopolis Notre Dame grad Brittany Almeida hit the crossbar, before Nipissing tied the game on a goal by Selena Innamorati, who scored from a sharp angle off a broken play from a corner kick in the game’s 74th minute.
The Gaels responded quickly, however, as Laura Callender scored her third goal of the season about a minute after that. Midfielder Jessie de Boer added an insurance tally, her eighth goal of the year, in injury time to clinch the victory.
Elsewhere, Royal Military College Paladins ended their season meekly, dropping back-to-back 3-0 decisions to Laurentian and Nipissing on Navy Bay Field. Paladins keeper Alexandra Hogg faced 21 shots in the two games, but her 15 saves meant little to a team that was shut out in all but two games this year, including the last 10 in a row, as it finished 1-14-1.
In men’s play, Queen’s also closed its regular schedule with a tie, a 1-1 draw with Laurentian on Sunday, gaining the point on a late goal by Rohan Sarna, who came off the bench to score his second goal of the season.
The win allows the Gaels to close the regular schedule 9-2-5, good for third place in the East division, three points behind second place Toronto and two ahead of fourth-place Carleton. Winless in their first three games this year, the Gaels lost just one of their last 13—at Laurentian, against a team that ultimately would not make the playoffs—and they finished the campaign on a six-game undefeated streak.
On Saturday, the Gaels clinched third place with a 2-0 win over Nipissing. Queen’s got second-half goals from Sarna, on a penalty kick, and Greg Simmons, on a 40-yard shot that slipped through the hands of the Lakers goalkeeper.
RMC, meanwhile, ended its season with a pair of defeats at Navy Bay Field, a 2-1 setback to Laurentian Saturday and a 2-0 loss Sunday to Nipissing. Graeme Curran scored the lone RMC goal for a team that displayed dogged defence that belied its 1-12-3 record. The Paladins allowed just 13 goals in their final 10 games.
The Gaels will host Ontario Tech Wednesday afternoon in a division quarter-final at Miklas-McCarney Field. Game time is 3 o’clock. The Ridgebacks finished the year 5-9-2, with just one win in their last eight games. They dropped both of their games with Queen’s, each by a 1-0 score.