The UNB Saint John Seawolves women’s soccer team had their season come to an end Saturday afternoon, as they were eliminated from the ACAA Playoffs by the Holland College Hurricanes.
Mount Saint Vincent University may have hosted this year’s playoff events in Halifax, but the fog and rain filled matchup made it feel just like home.
The game against the hurricanes had a special ebb and flow to it, Rather than rushing long fast passes, both teams focused on precision passes and ball control most likely as a result of the less than stellar conditions.
Holland took a few early shots, one of which notably crossed over the head of the wolves’ goaltender, Laiken Fox, barely missing the side of the net.
Moving to the other end of the field, Seawolves’ Hannah Thorne chipped a pass to center-back and teammate, Kaitlin Casey, who was unfortunately unable to finish.
Fox was kept on her toes by the attacking opposition. Shortly after making a save with her head, which let to Fox leaving the game with concussion like symptoms , Hurricanes’ Briar Roberts tallied up her team’s first goal of the playoffs to give Holland a 1 – 0 lead.
Ashlyn Hebert stepped up to take the goalie assignment, but after only two shots on net, Roberts ended up scoring again to push the lead to two.
Holland College was using short passes to their advantage and with three minutes left in the half a solid shot rung off the Seawolves crossbar and sailed over the net.
In the remaining seconds of the first half, UNB Saint John applied pressure, crossing the ball to center-back Kaitlin Casey, but the Hurricanes’ defense managed to keep the Seawolves off the scoreboard.
To begin the second half, Fox was cleared by physio to play, and she returned in net hoping help spur a comeback.
The Seawolves saw their chances of bringing the game within reach diminish as T-Anna Fraser scored twice in 20 minutes
The Seawolves’ offense did not stop and showed they were still alive late in the second half, owning ball possession for a steady 10 consecutive minutes in the Hurricanes end.
Despite the tremendous effort shown by the Seawolves to get on the scoreboard, the game ended with a score of 4 – 0 for Holland College who would go on to win the ACAA Championships.
Holland College head coach Kris McKinnon was happy with his teams’ performance.
“I think we got off to a great start, I thought the people from Saint John did a great job, they had the team organized really well, made it tough for us… But the benefit of still pushing it and getting a second (goal) before half time really let us relax and know that we were in the driver’s seat,” he said in an interview with The Baron following the game.
Hurricanes’ T-Anna Fraser and Seawolves’ Katrina Carroll, were named the players of the game for their outstanding play.
Despite the Seawolves being outshot 25-8, the players felt confident they played their best, and they were generally proud to make it to the playoffs once again.
“We changed our formation today, and we played extraordinary the first half,” says Seawolves veteran Zoe Britt, who played in her fifth and final season with the club and was also named to the Second Team All-Conference.
“It was a good season, we stuck it out,” Britt adds.
Seawolves head coach, Robert Mather, also has some positive about the game.
“I thought coming off the field today that the girls really put in a good effort,” says Mather.
“When you get in the playoffs, all you can ask for is top effort and working your hardest, and I think they did that.”
With five graduating players on the roster, you can expect to see some fresh new talent on the pitch next season but that doesn’t mean the returning players won’t step up, as coach Mather explains.
“Alyssa Oram, who is a rookie left-back, stepped up in this year. Katrina Carroll was up front and played really well. Laiken Fox, who was our goalie stepped up, Hannah Thorne too. So in our lineup we had four starters right away that we hope are gonna be able to start to be leaders for the team, and I would expect them to continue building on what they have done so far this year.“
It will be interesting to see how the squad adjusts to the loss of key veterans, but one thing is certain, the UNB Saint John Seawolves will come out determined to improve again next year.