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Wet, windy and wild: Memorial rallies to win AUS women's soccer playoff opener

The Memorial Sea-Hawks celebrate their shootout win in Thursday's quarter-final round of the AUS women;s soccer championship tournament in Sydney, N.S. — Memorial Athletics/Twitter
The Memorial Sea-Hawks celebrate their shootout win in Thursday's quarter-final round of the AUS women;s soccer championship tournament in Sydney, N.S. — Memorial Athletics/Twitter

Sea-Hawks beat previously unbeaten St. FX on penalty kicks; will play Capers in semifinal today

SYDNEY, N.S. —

In three seasons, 36 regular-season games and a few playoff contests with the Memorial Sea-Hawks women’s soccer team, Jamie King doesn’t have a goal to her credit.

Not that scoring is something that’s expected from King, who is out of Gonzaga High School in St. John’s; she’s a defender and backline stalwart for the Sea-Hawks.

Officially, she still doesn’t have a goal in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) play, but on Thursday, King nevertheless presented Memorial with one of its biggest tallies in recent memory, scoring on the deciding penalty kick in a 2-1 win over the St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the quarter-final round of the AUS championship tournament in Sydney, N.S.

As a reward, the sixth-seeded Sea-Hawks will get to play the rested, three-time defending champion and tourney host Cape Breton Capers in a semifinal today (5 p.m. NT).

But it’s a reward the Memorial women will gladly accept, especially considering what took place Friday.

The third-seeded X-Women (7-0-5) hadn’t lost in 12 regular-season games and looked to be extending streak as they got a first-half goal from Talia Morin and carried the resulting 1-0 lead into second-half added time.

But on a wet and windy day in Sydney, there was no quit in the Sea-Hawks, who knotted the score two minutes past regulation when Lauren Taylor scored a dandy, heading a well-placed free kick from Nicole Torraville into the upper corner of the St. FX goal.

There was a time early in the game when it looked questionable if Taylor would be able to continue playing; just about six minutes into the contest, back injury forced her to the sideline. But Taylor did eventually return to the pitch and played the remainder of what turned out to be a two hour-plus contest.

After 30 minutes of overtime didn’t provide a decision, the game came down to penalty kicks, a round that featured five shooters per side.

The Sea-Hawks scored on their first three chances, with Torraville, Taylor (Memorial’s player of the game) and Holly O’Neil getting shots by St. FX rookie goalkeeper Alyssa Spridgeon.

The X-Women scored on their first two attempts on the Sea-Hawks’ Sydney Walsh, the two-time conference first-team all-star, but Shyanne Hedges of St. FX missed on the third.

After Spridgeon stopped the Sea-Hawks Stacey Hanlon, Walsh responded in kind, denying Hannah Engdahl-Hawac. That set the stage for King, who didn’t melt under the spotlight,  putting her shot by Spridgeon and making the X-Women’s final attempt inconsequential.

Walsh had made seven saves in regulation, compared to just one for Spridgeon.

Even though No. 6 Memorial is the lowest remaining seed, teams are not re-ranked for the semifinals; the schedule was preset so that the first-place Acadia Axewomen (9-0-3) would play the victor of the quarter-final between the University of New Brunswick and Dalhousie, which UNB won 3-1.

The Axewomen and second-seed and defending champion Cape Breton Capers (9-2-1) both earned direct byes into the semifinals, with the Capers always set to play the winner of Memorial’s matchup with St. Francis Xavier.

This is a bit of deja vu for the Capers and Sea-Hawks, although the latter will be hoping things won’t turn out exactly the same as this time last year, when the championship tourney was also played in Sydney. Memorial was the sixth seed, but advanced to the semifinal, where it lost 2-0 to eventual champion Cape Breton. 

Twitter: @telybrendan


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