UFV’s women’s soccer team is on the ground in Quebec City, acclimatizing themselves at the start of a journey they hope will yield the program’s first Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship.
The Canada West silver medalists held their first practice at TELUS-UL Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, in advance of the CIS national tournament hosted by Laval University which opens today.
“It was a session designed to get us used the surface, and get our bodies moving and having some fun,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said.
“The mood is very good, very positive. The players are having a good time. It’s a reward to come here, but there’s still a job to do. We’re not just satisfied coming here, we’re coming here to do well.”
The Cascades (7-2-3 regular season, 2-1 playoffs) open the tournament today, Thursday Nov. 6 (4 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Pacific) with a quarter-final match-up against the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) champion Memorial Sea-Hawks. The game will be broadcast live here.
The St. John’s, Nfld. program has been red hot since opening its AUS schedule with back-to-back losses to the University of New Brunswick. The Sea-Hawks are 11-1-1 since then and avenged those defeats to UNB last Sunday in the conference final, beating the Varsity Reds a 3-1 to capture their first-ever AUS banner.
Giesbrecht said the Sea-Hawks represent “a stern test.” Memorial boasts a pair of dangerous strikers in Emily Bailey and Jessie Noseworthy, who were both AUS first team all-stars and racked up 10 and nine goals, respectively, during the regular season. Those totals were good for second and third overall in the league. Fellow striker Jane Pope was a second team conference all-star, and chipped in with two goals and a team-high four assists.
“They looked very good in the (AUS) final,” Giesbrecht said. “They’re a very hard-working team. It looks like a group of girls who have grown up playing together, and they’re very familiar with each other.
“We’ve got to play our game – not get too sidetracked trying to stop them, but focusing on what we do.”
The eight-team national tourney also features the Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West champs), the host Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champs), the Ottawa Gee-Gees (OUA champs), Montreal Carabins (RSEQ finalists), Western Mustangs (OUA finalists) and University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks (OUA bronze medallists).
The Spartans, who defeated UFV 2-1 in the Canada West gold medal match last Saturday in Langley, are attempting to become the first program in history to capture three consecutive CIS titles in women’s soccer, and could also become the first team the win six Gladys Bean Memorial Trophies overall.
Besides Trinity Western, who came out on top in 2004, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013, the only team in the field with a CIS title under its belt is the Gee-Gees, who won the Gladys Bean in 1996.
Montreal is a three-time CIS silver medallist, including losses to TWU in the final in 2009 (PK) and last year (1-0); Laval and Fraser Valley have claimed one bronze apiece; Western’s best result is a fourth-place finish; Memorial and UOIT will both make their CIS championship debut this week.
The eight-team tournament, hosted for the second time by Laval University, runs from Thursday to Sunday at TELUS-UL Stadium with the national final scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern time (11 a.m. Pacific). All 11 games from the competition will be webcast live on www.CIS-SIC.tv.
Tournament website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wsoc/index
In-depth tournament preview: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wsoc/2014/releases/preview
TOURNEY AT A GLANCE
Memorial Sea-Hawks (AUS champions: 9-3-1 regular season / 2-0 playoffs)
Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ champions: 13-1-0 regular season / 2-0 playoffs)
Ottawa Gee-Gees (OUA champions: 15-1-0 regular season / 3-0 playoffs)
Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West champions: 10-1-1 regular season / 3-0 playoffs)
Montreal Carabins (RSEQ silver medallists: 9-1-4 regular season / 1-1 playoffs)
Western Mustangs (OUA silver medallists: 13-2-1 regular season / 2-1 playoffs)
Fraser Valley Cascades (Canada West silver medallists: 7-2-3 regular season / 2-1 playoffs)
UOIT Ridgebacks (OUA bronze medallists: 12-2-2 regular season / 2-1 playoffs)
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (start times Pacific)
Wednesday, Nov. 5
15:30 All-Canadian Awards Banquet (Museum of Civilization)
Thursday, Nov. 6
08:00 Quarter-final 1: Montreal vs. Ottawa
10:30 Quarter-final 2: UOIT vs. Trinity Western
13:00 Quarter-final 3: Fraser Valley vs. Memorial
15:30 Quarter-final 4: Western vs. Laval
Friday, Nov. 7
8:00 Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2
10:30 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4
13:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2
15:30 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4
Saturday, Nov. 8
08:00 Fifth-place game
Sunday, Nov. 9
08:30 Bronze medal
11:00 Championship final
– with files from Michel Belanger, CIS