After dropping their first two matches of the season, the Martlets came into their Friday contest looking to extend their undefeated streak to five games. McGill faced off against the undefeated Laval Rouge et Or, who sported their own winning streak entering the game. The match resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Sophomore defender Zoe Fasoulakis knew that her squad was in for a tough test against the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.
“We were a bit nervous coming into the game, knowing their record […] but I was also very excited to get the chance to be the first team to beat them,” Fasoulakis said.
From the kickoff, Laval’s speed was put on display as its strikers managed to cut through the Martlets’ defense and put pressure on net. However, after an early shot was stopped by McGill’s veteran goaltender Victoria Muccilli, momentum began to sway in the Martlets’ favour as the backline tightened up.
McGill jumped out to an early lead when senior defender Kelsey Wilson put a free kick from the 10-yard marker past Laval keeper Joelle Morasse. The shot, taken in the 11th minute of play, drifted from the sideline to the far side—easily beating Morasse, who was expecting a cross.
The Martlets’ lead remained intact through the first half as Head Coach Jose-Luis Valdes’ tactics quieted the potent Rouge et Or offence.
“Our coach emphasized playing very tight in the back,” Fasoulakis said. “Just dropping back and staying in a tight defensive formation was key in keeping their offence in check.”
In a dramatic sequence right before the 45th minute mark, senior forward Meghan Bourque used a burst of speed to shed a Laval defender in the right wing and got off a tough angle shot that Morasse couldn’t hold onto. Sprinting through midfield, her sister Sarah Bourque, a sophomore winger, managed to put a powerful kick on the ensuing rebound but missed by centimetres as the ball bounced off the crossbar.
The Martlets were able to settle into their game against an intimidating opponent due to the early lead.
“It gave us that little edge and made it easier to play, knowing we had that cushion and not having to worry about scoring,” Fasoulakis said.
However, momentum quickly shifted away from the Martlets as Laval dominated play throughout the second half. McGill struggled to get the ball through Laval’s concrete midfield, and yellow cards hampered several promising rushes.
At the 78th minute mark, Laval’s Cynthia Turcotte took advantage of a sloppy clear in McGill’s half, breaking away with Rouge et Or forward Lea Chastenay-Joseph. A short cross past the diving Muccilli by Turcotte allowed Chastenay-Joseph to tap the ball into the empty net for the equalizer.
The Martlets were unsatisfied with the final outcome of the game, but should be able to use this game as a stepping stone for a strong playoff push in the second half of the season.
“It was a bit disappointing. It was an unlucky giveaway on our part that resulted in them tying the score. The fact that we were able to be the first team to take points away from Laval was a good feeling,” Fasoulakis said.
The resulting tie extended undefeated streaks for both teams. Laval improved to a division leading 6-0-1, and the Martlets moved to 4-2-1 solidifying their grasp on the fourth and final playoff berth.
McGill will take on their crosstown rivals, the Montreal Carabins (5-1-1) on Oct. 4th at Stade CEPSUM.