Antigonish, NS - On a cool autumn afternoon the Dalhousie Tigers and StFX X-Women played out a thrilling 1-1 draw at Oland Stadium. The game was the last home game of the season for the X-Women and it was the seniors who came to the fore.
All X-Women seniors were given the starting nod by head coach Graham Kennedy and they did not disappoint. Dalhousie, on their part, were equal to the determination displayed by StFX throughout the afternoon.
The match began, with each side knowing the result would be decided on fine margins, a bit of a tense affair. StFX takes great pride in being able to play through the midfield, but Dalhousie's Maya Venkataramen (Summerland, BC) was frequently getting on the ball and preventing X from gaining a foothold early on. She was equally capable of creating chances for her strike force of Riley Donovan (Lewis Lake, NS) and Jensen Hudder (White's Lake, NS).
Dalhousie enjoyed the first purple patch of the match early on in what became a back and forth battle. Emma Kuzmyk (Cookstown, ON), had to make a number of good saves just before the quarter hour mark to keep her team level.
While StFX had the first corner kick of the game after 15 minutes, they did not find their form until about half an hour into the match. There were a few new combinations and players playing out of position as all the graduating players were given starts. Rachel Hawkins (Calgary, AB) began to sync with Kelsey Ellis (Ottawa, ON) and X looked increasing likely to score. Hawkins showed a good first touch in the box and put herself in good positions to receive passes in dangerous areas.
After 37 minutes, X finally made their dangerous play count. Senior central defender, Amy Rowe (Aurora, ON) trapped an errant Tigers pass, and lofted it up to Mercy Myles (Accra, Ghana). Myles then delivered a laser through ball that Ellis ran onto. Ellis drove into the box and then crisply slid the ball along the deck and past DAL keeper Kate Fines (Halifax, NS).
The second half saw the X-Women continue their strong play. Normally a fixture in the heart of StFX's midfield, Chloe Brennan (Brookside, NS) played at left back as her sister, Elise, moved in a space to partner Rowe in central defence. Elise ably handled the Tigers attack and made a number of great reads. She stepped up in the play to intercept a Dalhousie pass enabling X to counterattack quickly. Chloe coolly handled the Tigers strikers and broke forward with the ball when the occasion presented itself and made a number of her trademark driving runs with the ball.
In the 77th minute, Dalhousie's patience paid off and they drew level with the X-Women. StFX failed to clear the ball and after a few mishits, the ball fell to the feet of midfielder Stephanie Dyck (Mississauga, ON), who made no mistake as she drove the ball into the corner of the net.
StFX went in search of the game winner. A half-time sub, Amanda Smith (Ottawa, ON) joined up with Myles and Ellis to put the Tigers centreback partnership of Rachelle Lalande (Halifax, NS) and Nicole Solie (Saskatoon) to the test. The DAL back four earned top marks for their efforts, as X piled on the pressure late on in the game. The top student, however, was Dalhousie keeper Kate Fines. She made a number of great saves, but it was her timing coming off her line to collect dangerous X-Women balls into the box that distinguished her as the player of the game for the Tigers.
Both StFX and Dalhousie are back in action tomorrow. The X-Women will travel to Charlottetown to face the Panthers Sunday at 2:00 pm, while the Tigers will be in Sydney to play the Capers at 1:00 pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information