The NAIT Ooks soccer teams came out of a tough weekend of back-to-back games, nearing the end of the season and provincials.
Both squads took on the Concordia Thunder on Oct. 17 and came up victorious, the women 2-1 and the men 2-0. The following afternoon, the women ended their home stand undefeated with a 3-0 shutout, while the guys played CCAA No. 1 seed Keyano to a 2-2 tie. NAIT’s footy teams finished first and second in the standings, respectively.
The women’s team opened up the action at noon Saturday in the first double-header. Kayla Michaels scored in the final minute of the half to put the Ooks ahead, but Concordia responded with their own tally seconds later. Michaels notched her second in the 88th minute to give her squad the victory. Women’s coach Carole Holt said that Saturday’s game was a tough contest for her squad.
“It was a physical game and we knew Concordia would be ready to play as both our teams were tied for top spot in the Northern Conference going into the game.”
Holt added that the team’s performance, while not its best, was gritty and she was proud of how the players responded. Goalkeeper Kailey Harder was outstanding for the team and came up with some big saves in the second half to seal the 2-1 victory.
The men’s squad put up a solid effort Saturday afternoon as well, fighting off a determined Concordia squad. Head coach Charles O’Toole said he was proud of his team’s effort and they deserved the win.
Sunday, Oct. 18 kicked off once again against the Keyano Huskies, with the ladies coming to Edmonton to take on the Ooks. There was no doubt of the dominant team during the game, as the ladies romped to a 3-0 decision. Michaels scored her league leading 17, while Wendy Abramenko added a pair of her own. Holt said it was a special day because of the game being the Graduating Players Day, which is always special. Jenna Kleebaum, Sabrina Jhamandas, Michaels and Kelsey Mitchell will graduate, while Abramenko also leaves the program at season end.
“These players will be very hard to replace and I felt as though the team played for them on Sunday,” said Holt. “The 3-0 win was a great way to close out the weekend.” In the men’s heated contest against the Huskies on Sunday, which saw a number of ejections, Edem Mortotsi and Igi Broda scored for NAIT. While the guys were unlucky not to come away with a win, it was good for the team to have a tough test going into the post season.
“This was good preparation for us as we head to Provincials in two weeks,” said O’Toole. “We are looking to build on our performances from this past weekend to make a run at another provincial title and a trip to nationals. We are healthy and, with one game remaining in our season, we are looking to finish strong.”
The men are also graduating four players – Mortotsi, Broda, Tarik El-Assal and Jahmed Mayes.
The Ooks soccer squads look ahead to this weekend when they’ll play their last regular season games of the year on Sunday, Oct. 25, on the road. Both teams will make the quick trek to Concordia to take on the Thunder before getting ready to enter ACAC Championship games on Oct. 30. Game times are noon and 2 p.m. For the conference tournaments, the ladies team will have to travel to Grande Prairie, while the men must make the long haul to Fort McMurray, as the championship will be hosted by Keyano College.