X-Women earn first win of the season

Photo credit Bryan Kennedy, STFX Athletics
Photo credit Bryan Kennedy, STFX Athletics

Antigonish, NS – The STFX X-Women regrouped after an opening season loss by playing to a 3-1 victory over the UPEI Panthers on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at STFX Stadium.

The opening quarter-hour saw both teams jockey for position. STFX, looking to play out from the back, put pressure on the X backline and keeper Jordyn Pratt (Calgary, AB) had to be alert early. 

The Panthers' front three of Emily Cormier (Charlottetown, PEI), Rachel Green (Borden-Carleton, PEI), and Caitlyn McCluskey (North Wiltshire, PEI) were a formidable trifecta and kept the X back far on high alert, and first-year centreback, Meg Hamilton (Grely, ON), showed great composure in her first start.

STFX opened the scoring in the 17th minute on a goal by Caitlin Crichton (Ottawa, ON). Brynn Jurus (Ancaster, ON) purposely took the ball upfield and fired a shot saved by Panthers keeper, Claudia Mazzei (Milton, ON). Crichton quickly took the rebound and made no mistake to put in over the line.

The Panthers equalized in the 27th minute off a free kick from just outside the top corner of the 18-yard box. Green fired a low hard shot and X keeper, Pratt, was unable to corral the ball on the short hop and Mia Martell (Mississauga, ON) calmly deposited the ball into the net.

The X-Women immediately looked to retake the lead and in the 34th minute as Jurus fired a point-blank shot that was well saved by Mazzei. From this point on, STFX grew into the game and Talia Morin (Ottawa, ON) and Jenna Burrows (New Glasgow, NS) asserted themselves on proceedings. They showed a number of deft touches on the ball and crisp on the deck passing. This composure allowed Crichton and Smith to create a number of scoring chances from dangerous areas, but Mazzei came out to challenge or made the key save as needed.  Helping to limit the chances was centreback Martell whose sound positioning and deft touches on the ball helped to keep the score even 1-1 at half-time.

The X-Women continued their good form into the second half and made it difficult for the Panthers to exert much pressure in STFX's half. However, the first opportunity of the half did go to the visitors. The Panthers were awarded a free kick from about 35 yards out. Lydia Hamill (Albany, PEI) struck the ball nicely, but the shot went just over the bar. 

In the 56th minute Grace Veinotte (Port Williams, NS) had a chance to give the Panthers the lead, but X were able to clear their lines.

STFX quickly launched an attack of their own and the Panthers were forced to continue their fine defending. Roselyn Kushko (Russell, ON), along with Mortel, were a solid partnership as X had any number of chances from the edge and inside the 18-yard box. 

Yantha, Smith and Jurus often found themselves in dangerous positions, and no doubt many X fans were asking if luck was on the Panthers side as the game reached the hour mark.

From the 60-minute mark, the X-Women redoubled their effort to earn the three points.  Smith looked to send Emma Steen (Stittsville, ON), through on goal, but it was once again Martell who initially halted X's forward progress. 

STFX quickly found themselves back in possession and Emma Steen was back on the ball.  She made a nice pass to Yantha, who need only one touch to put the ball in the back of the net in the 63rd minute to put the X-Women up 2-1.

As the game was in its final furlong Mazzei, as she had done on numerous occasions, courageously came out of to nullify an X attack and collided with an X-Women player. To no one's surprise, Mazzei played on. 

STFX's pressure led to a number of corner kicks and Morin was able to show off her ball striking ability. Each corner was aptly struck and only for a couple of great takes by Mazzei was the deficit only one for the Panthers. 

In the game's final minute the X-Women were awarded a corner kick and Morin's strikes were justly rewarded with a goal. The perfectly flighted ball was expertly headed by Amanda Smith (Ottawa, ON) into the top corner of the net to make the final score 3-1 in favour of the X-Women.

The Subway Player of the Game was awarded to X-Women forward Hanna Yantha, while the UPEI player of the game was Mia Martel.

Next on the schedule for UPEI (0-2) is their home opener against the Saint Mary's Huskies (1-1) next Saturday, September 17th at 1pm.

The X-Women (1-1) will travel to Sackville, NB to play Mount Allison (0-1-1) next Saturday, also at 1pm.


Recap courtesy Bart Sears, STFX Sports Information