Women's Soccer: The playoff preview

Surprise, surprise, Queen's, Laurier, Ottawa and McMaster are through to the OUA final four.

For the Golden Hawks, it was somewhat nervy. A goal from Heather Malizia in the second half gave them a 1-0 win over the fomerly powerful York Lions. Laurier didn't do themselves any favours with some shocking finishing and could easily have given up an earlier goal to York.

Queen's predictably beat Carleton 3-0. It only took Jacqueline Tessier ten minutes to score and she didn't look back, adding another later.

The Gaels' win sets up a semi-final with McMaster, who beat Windsor 3-0 on two goals from Natalie Brace. The Marauder's women's soccer web page shows a delightfully ironic highlight package of McMaster getting knocked out 3-0 by Queen's in last year's semi-final, possibly as motivation for this year's team.

Ottawa edged Toronto 2-1 on a late goal on a free kick from Gillian Baggot. Zovel Hyre had been sent off in conceding the foul near the top of the area and it cost the Varsity Blues a chance at the semi-finals. The Gee-Gees will play Laurier which given the Golden Hawks' offensive issues, might be a closer game than the standings would suggest.

Let's take a moment and appreciate the University of Victoria Vikes. After looking out of it a few weeks ago, they won their last three, took advantage of Calgary's tough schedule, and grabbed the final playoff place with a 2-1 win over the Cascades. This earns them the privilege of being (likely) knocked out by Trinity Western in the first round.

Upsets are always possible--but then look how UFV fared this year. The Spartans know all about that and it's hard to think they'll let it happen again. They've lost one game all year on the first day. They haven't looked back since then.

UBC and Alberta will be the game to watch in Canada West. It won't be as beautiful soccer as Trinity Western can play, but it will be a battle of two talented and closely-matched teams. They split the season-series 2-2, with each earning a 2-0 win at home. This time they'll play on neutral ground in Burnaby on the Spartans' pristine field. Both teams prefer an aerial, physical game.

In RSEQ, UQTR did themselves in by losing to the already-eliminated UQAM. Laval's 8-0 win over Bishop's saw the Rouge et Or through to the RSEQ playoffs. They'll play the Carabins, which won't be easy but stranger things have happened and if Laval can defend well, they might frustrate Montreal--maybe.

In AUS, Dalhousie's lacklustre 1-0 loss to Saint Mary's must have been intentional after all, as they'll now play UNB in the quarter-finals. If the Tigers wanted momentum, they'll more than likely get it. The one pitfall might be a strong home crowd for the Varsity Reds, though that doesn't always mean much in AUS.

The finally-number-ten-ranked Saint Mary's will likely get Dal in the semi-final, which should set up a game to avoid for fans of entertaining soccer this weekend. Switch to the men instead: semi-final Saturday is always crazy, although at least they're calling for sun this year.

If Cape Breton do draw UPEI for the semi-final, at least that game will be good. The Capers beat the Panthers in the final last year, but UPEI are much improved. Two rookie strikers will go at each other in Karolyne Blain and Maria Scichilone. Whoever triumphs gets a shot at the lone AUS spot at nationals in the final.
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