(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) The Cape Breton Capers are the 2017 AUS women's soccer champions. They earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Acadia Axewomen in the Subway AUS Women's Soccer Championship final Sunday afternoon at StFX Oland Stadium.
Championship most valuable player Tamara Brown (Whitby, Ont.) scored the game winner with eight minutes left in the game to secure the Capers' eighth AUS conference banner and first since 2015.
For Acadia it marked the second consecutive year they lost in the conference final.
The Capers came out flying in the opening minutes of the game with a couple of early scoring chances. AUS all-star forward Keona Simmonds (Brampton, Ont.) sent a header just wide of the Axewomen net, while Chantal Caron (Ottawa, Ont.) sent a low shot on goal forcing Acadia keeper Spencer Skinner (Hammonds Plains, N.S.) to be sharp early on with the save.
Amelia Carlini (Ottawa, Ont.) delivered a quick shot that sailed just over the Acadia net as the teams remained scoreless early in the opening half.
Acadia's best chance of the half came when Jacqueline Stevens (Kentville, N.S.) sent a nice cross in front of the Capers net in the 13th minute. Midfielder Rachelle Aucoin (Cheticamp, N.S.) got her head on it and Lysianne Trottier (Barrie, Ont.) came up with her first big save of the game for the Capers.
Cape Breton had a dangerous corner kick in the 27th minute as 2017 AUS MVP Ciera Disipio (Ottawa, Ont.) sent the ball on goal but an Acadia defender was able to kick it out of harm's way and back up field.
Simmonds was close to giving the Capers their first goal as she sprinted into the 18-yard box with Brown who made a quick cross to her in front of the net but she mistimed a sure strike on goal.
Skinner was strong in the Acadia goal, making several key saves, including punching away the ball on a Disipio free kick and then saving a point-blank shot from the same Capers star midfielder seconds later.
The Capers threatened again right at the end of the half on a late corner kick, but a header by Carlini went wide over top of the net and the teams remained scoreless after the opening 45 minutes.
In the second half the Capers started just where they had left off as Brown initiated a scoring chance in the opening minute after she made a nifty move to get past her Axewomen defender and sent a shot towards the goal. Simmonds almost got her foot on it for a redirection but Spencer scooped up the ball.
Two minutes later the Capers finally solved Spencer as a crossed ball from Caron hit cross bar, came right down on the goal line and Simmonds was there to head it in to give Cape Breton a 1-0 lead.
The Axewomen answered right back with a goal of their own in the 53rd minute in very similar fashion to the Capers goal. AUS all-star and veteran midfielder Katie Ross (Bedford, N.S.) won a battle with the ball in deep and sent a cross in front of the Capers net. Allie Scovil (Hubley, N.S.) got a head on it past keeper Trottier to even the game at 1-1.
The Capers duo of Brown and Simmonds tried to break through and score the go-ahead goal but the Acadia defence held strong.
Acadia's Ross sent in a dangerous free kick in the 68th minute in front of the Capers net with teammate Candance Conrad (Dartmouth, N.S.) connecting with the header but it went over the cross bar.
After solid possession and touches in the Acadia end on the part of the Capers, midfielder Alyssa Armstrong (St. John's, N.L.) generated a strong shot on goal in 75th minute and Skinner needed to make a diving save to keep it out.
After continued Capers possession, the Axewomen had a huge scoring chance when Boudreau fired a shot on goal that Trottier got a quick hand on to deflect the ball up. Earle's header attempt on the rebound went wide of the post.
A minute later, Capers all-star midfielder Brown scored the game winner as her shot from 20 yards out was a solid strike that sailed over the head of Skinner into the back of the net.
Acadia almost netted the tying goal in the 85th minute off a corner kick as the ball bounced around in the Capers 18-yard box and Destiny Lutz (North Vancouver, B.C.) connected with a header that went high.
With only two minutes of extra time added at the end of the game the Axewomen were unable to score the equalizer and the Capers held on for the championship win.
For her efforts in the game Brown received Subway Player of the Game honours for Cape Breton, while fifth-year defender Emily Nickerson (Berwick, N.S.) was named Subway Player of the Game for the Axewomen.
With the win the Capers advance represent the AUS conference at the U SPORTS Women's Soccer Championship being hosted by the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Nov. 9-12.
Source: StFX Athletics Communications