Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - The University of Alberta Pandas clinched second place in the Prairie division of Canada West following a 2-0 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns, Saturday afternoon at Foote Field.
Anna Dunn and Brenna Mattiello scored for the Pandas, who improved to 9-1-3 in conference play. They have now also solidified their playoff schedule, as they will host a play-in game between the third seed in the Pacific division against the sixth seed in the Prairie, before playing the winner in a quarter-final match next Sunday at Foote Field.
In desperate need of a full three points to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Pronghorns were unable to do so, falling to 2-10-1 this season, and out of the conference playoffs.
The host Pandas wasted little time taking over the match on Saturday afternoon, firing 14 shots towards the Lethbridge net in the first half. Pronghorns starting keeper Hanna Quinn was forced to make a handful of stops early, keeper her side in the match.
The high quantity of shots for the Pandas finally resulted in a goal in the 15th minute, as Dunn finished off a fantastic individual effort. After taking a pass from Megan Duro in her own half, Dunn raced up the near side of the pitch, before ripping a shot past Quinn from just outside the 18-yard box for her sixth goal of the season.
The match levelled off considerably in the second half, with both teams generating a fair amount of offence. Pandas starter Rebecca Reif made a pair of quality saves on Pronghorns chances, while Quinn did the same for Lethbridge.
The Pandas were able to finally add the insurance marker in the 53rd minute, as Mattiello banged in the loose ball in the Pronghorns crease. The goal was her fifth this season, extending her team lead in points to 12.
A sense of urgency never seemed to fall onto the Pronghorns, who spent most of the second half in their own zone. The late shots they fired towards the Alberta net were stopped by Reif, who finished the match with four saves and her eight clean sheet.
The Pandas will finish their regular season tomorrow, as they host the Calgary Dinos, while Lethbridge will head south to Calgary and visit the Mount Royal Cougars.