Sydney, NS – The StFX X-Women are the 2016 AUS champions after a 2-1 victory in penalty kicks over the Acadia Axewomen Sunday afternoon at CBU Field.
After playing to a 1-1 draw through regulation and two 15-minute overtime halves, the X-Women went into penalty kicks for the second consecutive game.
After the teams exchanged two goals in the shootout and each keeper made two saves, Acadia netminder Emma Connell made a save on StFX's Chloe Brennan, setting up a chance for her teammate Michelle Pryde to win the game for the Axewomen on the final penalty kick of the shootout. Her shot sailed high over the StFX net, sealing the win for the X-Women.
Erin Visser earned the win in nets, as she entered the game in the final minutes to handle the shootout task. The X-Women made a similar move in their 1-0 semifinal win over Cape Breton which also went into penalty kicks.
StFX keeper Nicole MacDonald earned AUS championship most valuable player honors for her solid performance in nets in three X-Women victories.
"It feels amazing," commented MacDonald after the game. "The effort of this team is fantastic, even though it's been a tough weekend we know how to push through. Today we were tired at the end but we knew if we could push through the reward would be worth it."
The first half of the game featured the X-Women holding the majority of the possession with neither team creating significant scoring chances.
The X-Women struck first as Subway Player of the Game Kelsey Ellis ripped a shot high into the Acadia net from outside the 20-yard box. Her goal came in the 44th minute unassisted as the X-Women took the 1-0 lead into halftime.
StFX came out strong in the second half and had several good shots on net as Connell made some key saves.
MacDonald made some big saves of her own, deflecting a high Axewomen shot off the cross bar in the 63rd minute to save a goal.
The X-Women continued to create scoring opportunities but couldn't beat Connell. Tired legs started to become a factor for StFX later in the half as the momentum shifted and the Axewomen turned it up a level.
Acadia nearly scored in the 72nd minute as a nice cross towards the front of the X net was one-timed high.
They did solve MacDonald five minutes later as Emily Nickerson connected off an Axewomen corner kick after the ball bounced around in front of the X crease.
The teams remained tied through to the end of regulation.
MacDonald continued her stellar play in overtime, making two key saves off Axewomen chances. Chloe Brennan had a chance in the closing minutes of the second overtime to put the game away for the X-Women but her shot sailed just high over the Acadia net, setting up the shootout dramatics.
X-Women head coach Graham Kennedy commented after the exciting win, "We got to the 70th minute and we were playing really well, then the Acadia press got to us but we got to the end and stuck it out through overtime. I knew that if we could get through overtime and with Visser in goal we could have a really good chance to win and that's exactly what happened, we're really pleased."
When asked about the chemistry of the team this season Kennedy notes, "We have an unbelievable chemistry here, it's an absolute sisterhood. It's the most unselfish group I've probably ever coached, they just pull for each other, they never stop working, and never give up."
The title marked the third AUS championship banner in X-Women team history, having also won in 2009 and 1986.
Both the X-Women and Axewomen advance to the U Sports national championship, StFX as AUS champions and Acadia as tournament hosts as the eight-team event is slated for Nov. 10-13 in Wolfville, NS at Acadia University.