SYDNEY, NS – The STFX X-Women (#1) defeated the Memorial SeaHawks (#4) in the first semi-final match at the 2023 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Women's Soccer Championship – presented by Bell – on Friday morning at Ness Timmons Field on the Cape Breton University (CBU) campus.
With the victory, the X-Women will play for a conference banner on Sunday – at 1 p.m. ADT – versus the winner of the second semi-final match between the Acadia Axewomen and host CBU Capers.
Early in the first half, the undefeated X-Women took early control – possession-wise – which they did not relinquish for the bulk of the first half.
In the 16th minute, off a goal-mouth scramble in the six-yard box, Hannah Fudge (Conception Bay South, NL) prevented Aidan Miller (Chilliwack, BC) from getting a quality shot on Memorial keeper Shannon Galway (St. John's, NL).
A couple of minutes later, the SeaHawks garnered their first scoring chance, when Claire Langille (Windsor Junction, NS) made a run down the wing and fed Kate Hickey (Outer Cove, NL), who could not corral the bouncing ball and test veteran X-Women keeper Christina Gentile (Sherbrooke, QC).
In the 22nd minute, Galway made a fine stop on the left-footed strike from AUS first-team all-star Amanda Smith (Ottawa, ON), who tallied 22 goals in the regular season.
A few minutes later, midfielder Caitlin Crichton (Ottawa, ON) got loose for a strike, but it sailed over the crossbar.
In the 43rd minute, Smith – off a counterattack by the X-Women – opened the scoring with a sensational sliding strike from just outside the 18-yard box that found the top corner behind Galway.
The X-Women led 1-0 at halftime.
In the second half, the SeaHawks fashioned the equalizer, keyed by the speed of Langille, whose run down the flank led to a corner kick opportunity. Off that set piece, in the 53rd minute, junior fullback Sarah Jones (Marystown, NL) made a short pass to Langille, who carried the ball into box and then made a cross that deflected into the net to knot the contest 1-1.
In the 59th minute, Reid came close to regaining the White and Blue advantage, but she rang a shot off the goal post behind Galway.
STFX went up 2-1, in the 62nd minute, when Miller took a feed at the top of the box – with a stellar first touch – and then uncoiled a strike that tucked inside the left goal post.
Seconds later, the X-Women came within inches of doubling their edge, when freshman midfielder Cheyenne Bower (London, ON) laced a shot off the crossbar – from 25 yards away – that deflected off the right hand of Galway behind going out of bounds,.
Just more than two minutes after her first marker – in the 64th – Miller got behind the Memorial defense and collected a long pass inside the six-yard box that she put home off the outstretched right foot of Galway to make it 3-1.
The best scoring chance for the SeaHawks, as they gamely tried to rally from the two-goal deficit, came off the foot of junior fullback Claire Kean (St. John's, NL), who curled a left-footed strike that headed for the far goal post, but Gentile made a diving stop – her best of the contest.
Miller garnered player of the match honours.
STFX outshot Memorial 26-3, including 13-2 in shots on goal.
The victory for the X-Women is their 13th consecutive triumph, coming after posting a 12-0-0 record the in AUS regular season.
Recap courtesy Corey LeBlanc