By Mark Janzen, Trinity Western University
LANGLEY, B.C. – The Trinity Western women's soccer team captured its second straight Canada West championship, beating Calgary 1-0 in the gold medal match Saturday at Chase Office Field.
With Rachel Hutchinson (Cloverdale, B.C.) scoring the game-winner in the sixth minute, the Spartans earned their eighth Canada West championship in program history. With her goal, Hutchinson has now scored the game-winning marker in all three of TWU's playoff games.
Fifth-year Rachel Sydor (Tsawwassen, B.C.) made six saves to earn the clean sheet and the victory.
Playing in their eighth consecutive Canada West gold medal match, the Spartans scored early and then held off a Dinos side that finished the night with a 6-5 edge in shots on goal.
The Spartans and Dinos will now both move on to play in the U SPORTS Championship, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The tournament seeding and schedule will be announced Sunday.
Since joining Canada West in 2001, TWU's women's soccer team has now won 14 conference medals, including eight gold, five silver and one bronze.
Playing without CW Player of the Year Seina Kashima for the second straight game, TWU opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Hutchinson converted a rebound from inside the six-yard box. After Danae Derksen (Delta, B.C.) sent in a cross off the right side, TWU's Jenaya Robertson's (Delta, B.C.) shot was blocked, but it was Hutchinson knocking home the loose ball.
The Dinos nearly equalized in the 16th minute when Jordan Smith put a header off the crossbar.
Calgary had another close call in the 22nd minute when Maddison Fritze had a clean look on goal from 20 yards out but TWU's Sydor came up with the save.
With the course of play silting towards the Dinos side, the visitors finished the first half with an 11-7 edge in total shots. Calgary also had six shots on goal to TWU's three.
The second half saw the Spartans defensive line keep the Dinos largely at bay as TWU didn't allow a single Calgary shot on target in the second half.
After Calgary's 11-shot first half, the Dinos were held to just one shot in the second half.
TWU Head Coach Graham Roxburgh
"I thought our kids played really well. It was a tough game. Calgary is excellent and they're very skilled. We're always hungry for the knock downs and I thought we defended their directness well. They have three or four very special forwards, who can hurt you at any given time and I thought we dealt with them well.
"I thought Amy Gartke (Edmonton) was superb tonight, both in midfield and playing outside back. Aliya Coy (Burnaby, B.C.) had her best weekend as a Spartan. Our two centrebacks were stalwarts at the back and were really hard to break down. Rachel Sydor made a couple of crucial saves after we had scored and (Calgary) grabbed some momentum. Jenaya was excellent in terms of her work rate and her toughness and willingness to scrap and break up plays, while also keeping us in possession. Sierra Halldorson (Winnipeg) was excellent. For a young rookie to step into a game of that magnitude and play with that type of poise was impressive. Kat Chin (Calgary) had her best weekend of the season and finished her career at home very well. And I was really pleased with Rachel Hutchinson. To be injured for a good chunk of the season and not be in a rhythm and now score three playoff goals, she's back on form. We've done well. I've always said I think we play in the best conference so winning this is no small feat."
On playing without CW Player of the Year Seina Kashima
"Seina obviously makes life a little bit easier because she draws so much attention from the opposition but we just felt that we should leave her out tonight, but have her ready. She's feeling way better. We could have used her tonight but we were up a goal, so we didn't need to bring her in. Had we been tied or down a goal, Seina would have played. But I'm relieved we didn't need her and now she'll be healthy for the national championship."
On the U SPORTS Championship
"There are so many good teams there and everybody is good. There's no easy game and we're just excited to be in the mix to be vying for something very special."
• This weekend marked the Spartans 15th straight appearance in the Canada West Final Four.
• The Spartans second consecutive title comes after beating University of Victoria in the final last year.
• All told, TWU has played in 13 conference finals since joining CW in 2001.
• The last time Calgary was in the Final Four was in 2015 when they finished third.
• The Dinos have captured one conference title in their program history, winning in 2005.
The Spartans will play in the U SPORTS quarter-finals Thursday in Ottawa. TWU will await the U SPORTS championship seeding and schedule before finding out its opponent.