X-Women and Axewomen to face off in 2021 AUS women's soccer championship final

Photo by Vaughan Merchant
Photo by Vaughan Merchant

(Sydney, N.S.) After two dramatic seminfinals, the 2021 Subway AUS Women's Soccer Championship final is set, with fourth-seed StFX X-Women and third-seed Acadia Axewomen—who upset the first and second seeds, respectively—facing off on Sunday, November 7 at 1pm. Read on for more on how your finalists battled through penalty kicks and overtime heroics.

Semifinal #1: Memorial Sea-Hawks (1st) vs. StFX X-Women (4th)

It was pandemonium on the pitch when StFX X-Women goalkeeper Christina Gentile (Laval, QC) turned aside a penalty kick from Briana Pender (Goulds, NL) of the Memorial Sea-Hawks, which provided the White and Blue with a spot in Sunday afternoon's gold medal match at the 2021 Subway AUS Women's Soccer Championships at CBU. 

The game-winning stop—one that gave the X-Women a 2-1 victory, on penalty kicks—came on the ninth shooter for the Sea-Hawks, which came after homegrown product freshman Mairin Canning (Antigonish, N.S.) tallied on the ninth attempt for the X-Women. 

STFX outscored Memorial 7-6 in penalty kicks. 

"It was an amazing game," first-year X-Women defender Abby Steen (Stittsville, ON)—a second-team conference all-star selection—said after the dramatic finish. She added that her team knew it would be a tough match against the Sea-Hawks, who finished in first place with a 10-2 record in the regular season. 

"We performed well and with a lot of passion," Steen—the Subway player of the game—said of the X-Women's effort. 

As for the mood of her team heading to penalty kicks, which came after the sides played to a 1-1 in regulation and 30 minutes of overtime, she said "nervous." 

"We all just encouraged each other to take a breath," Steen added. 

She praised the effort of her goalkeeper in securing the victory. 

"Chris [Gentile] made some amazing saves," Steen said. 

In the opening couple minutes of the first half, the Sea-Hawks came up empty on a corner-kick opportunity, but—just more than one minute later—AUS most valuable player Holly O'Neill (St. John's, NL) got behind the X-Women defense and drew a foul. On the ensuing free kick, conference second-team all-star headed the ball away, but Nicole Torraville (St. John's, NL) showed deft touch and volleyed home the first goal behind goalkeeper Christina Gentile (Laval, QC) in the third minute. 

A couple of minutes later, the X-Women looked for the equalizer but Steen headed an Amanda Smith (Ottawa, ON) corner kick wide of the net behind Sea-Hawk goalkeeper Sydney Walsh (St. John's, NL). 

Off a free kick just outside the 18-yard box, O'Neill blistered a shot but Gentile made the stop. 

The conference MVP left the game in the 64th minute with an injury, but returned to play OT and participate in the penalty kicks. 

In the 17th minute, STFX made it 1-1 off a stellar individual effort from Smith, who controlled the ball off a scramble and ripped a left-footed shot that bested Walsh, who dove to her left to make a save attempt. 

That was the last goal until penalty kicks, although bother sides had several opportunities to score in regulation and overtime, but the defenses – led by Gentile and Memorial's Sydney Walsh, an AUS second-team all-star, stood tall. 

With the win, the X-Women move on to play either the Acadia Axewomen for the AUS banner on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. AST. 

Noting that STFX has a lot of first-year players, Steen described making the championship match as "amazing." 

"It is an honour," she said of the opportunity.  

Semifinal #2: Cape Breton Capers (2nd ) vs. Acadia Axewomen (3rd)

Junior defender Meghan Johnston (Dartmouth, N.S.) tallied the game-winning goal in the 114th minute as the Acadia Axewomen scored a 2-1 overtime victory over the host Cape Breton University (CBU) Capers in the second AUS women's soccer semi-final match on Friday evening. 

After making a run, forward Jayden Boudreau (Halifax, N.S.) made a left-footed cross that Johnston deposited behind conference first-team all-star goalkeeper Haley Kardas (Halifax, N.S.). 

"We are so excited—we worked so hard for this [win] and we are so pumped," Subway player of the game freshman forward Alli Kelly (Halifax, N.S.) said in a post-match interview. 

In the opening half, the Capers garnered the first scoring opportunity with Fatou Ndiaye (Pierrefonds, QC) making the cross to Erin Freeman (Halifax, N.S.) whose shot sailed over the crossbar. 

Both teams collected free and corner-kick chances, but they came up empty. 

In the 30th, Jayden Boudreau (Halifax, N.S.), with a strike from 20 yards out, tested AUS first-team all-star Haley Kardas (Halifax, N.S.), but she dove to her left and made the save. Three minutes later, Caleigh MacPherson (Lingan, N.S.) curled in a high shot that Acadia goalkeeper Milena Ramirez (New Minas, N.S.) kept out while banging into her left goal post.  

Ndiaye ripped a blast—off a feed from Alliyah Rowe (Kitchener, ON)—but Ramirez got her right hand on the ball and deflected it over the crossbar. 

Late in the first half, with the Capers pressing, Rebecca Lambke (Antigonish, N.S.) made a nifty run before testing Ramirez with a shot, who made a diving stop on the short side. 

Off a corner kick by Ally Wilton (Bedford, N.S.), Rowe—a conference first-team all-star—put a header on goal, but she could not find the back of the net. 

In the 52nd minute, Rowe opened the scoring, when she bested Ramirez with a shot to make it 1-0. 

Kelly notched the equalizer for Acadia, in the 74th minute, when she ripped a strike inside the far post behind Kardas, after taking a throw-in pass from Rebecca LeBlanc (Sydney, N.S.). She described getting her first goal of the season as "perfect timing." 

Both teams exchanged changes in OT before Johnston's heroics. 

The Axewomen will play the STFX X-Women for the AUS banner on Sunday, Nov. 7  at 1 p.m. AST. 

"We have worked so hard, so we are going to do everything that we can to come out on top," Kelly said of the matchup. 

Watch the gold-medal match webcast live at AUStv.ca. 


Recaps courtesy of Corey LeBlanc / CBU


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