OTTAWA (U SPORTS) – With the match on the verge of going to extra time, Kathryn Harvey (Coquitlam, B.C.) scored a stoppage-time goal to send the Trinity Western Spartans to the U SPORTS gold medal game by capping a thrilling 2-1 comeback victory over the Cape Breton Capers Saturday.
Harvey and Amy Gartke (Edmonton) provided the goals for the Spartans, while Rachel Leck found the back of the net for the Capers.
With additional time being announced, the Spartans completed the comeback. Rachel Hutchinson (Cloverdale, B.C.) split the Caper defence with a smart, one-touch through ball to Harvey - who had the game-winner in the quarter-final - and was cool under pressure to send her team through to the final.
"The first half was really tough going against the wind," said Gartke, who was named Player of the Game for the Spartans. "In the second half, we really had to battle it out. Our coaches said to put it all on the line, and that's how our team plays. Credit to Cape Breton – they put up a really good battle."
With the win, the Spartans will now play in the championship final for the fifth time in the last seven years, having taken home the title in 2012 and 2013 before settling for silver in both 2014 and 2015. TWU will be seeking its sixth national championship in program history.
The final will see TWU play either McMaster or host Ottawa in Sunday's final. Kickoff is at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET. Advancing to the final ensures TWU will secure a U SPORTS medal for the sixth time in the last seven years.
A strong wind blew throughout the game at Gee-Gees Field and whichever team had the wind at their back dominated the possession.
Cape Breton began the match with the wind at their backs and nearly found the back of the net early on. Ciera Disipio cut inside and had a long drive, forcing goalkeeper Rachel Sydor into an acrobatic save.
Another opportunity for Cape Breton in the 29th minute. A free kick was whipped into the box and Amelia Carlini stretched to reach it, but her effort missed by inches.
On the stroke of halftime, the Capers broke the deadlock. Leck chipped the goalkeeper from the edge of the box with a perfectly-placed shot. Cape Breton took the one-goal advantage into the break.
With the wind quite literally at their backs for the second half, Trinity Western had new life. The Spartans had numerous quality chances within the first 15 minutes, the best of which was a shot blazed over the bar by Gartke.
Harvey then had a point-blank opportunity, but goalkeeper Rachel Yerxa charged her down and made a crucial stop. Yerxa had to be on her toes throughout the second half, as the Spartans were very much on the front foot and peppered her with shots.
The Spartans were rewarded for their pressure with a dandy goal in the 80th minute. Kristen Sakaki (Surrey, B.C.) put a cross to the back post and Gartke met it with a powerful header. The fifth-year left Yerxa had no chance and it was the tying goal that ultimately set up a dramatic finish.
Players of the Game
Cape Breton: Ciera Disipio
Trinity Western: Amy Gartke