The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s soccer team is moving on to the Canada West Final Four after defeating the Calgary Dinos in the quarter-finals on Oct. 29 at Griffiths Stadium.
While the game may have ended in a scoreless tie, the Huskies won in a thrilling penalty shootout 3-2. Goalkeeper Jadyn Steinhauer made three saves on penalties to end the Dinos’ season and erase their chances of defending their Canada West championship title.
The Huskies nearly opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a breakaway by fifth-year forward Maya Gabruch to take control of the game, but Dinos goalkeeper Lauren Houghton made the save to silence the cheerful home crowd.
The Dinos also had a great opportunity to score when a shot from midfielder Montana Leonard hit the crossbar in the 23rd minute after missing wide earlier in the game.
After a scoreless first half, the Huskies had a slight edge with three shots on goal versus just one for the Dinos.
In the second half, the Dinos were more aggressive on offense, setting up what looked like a potential winning goal by defender Maiya Lee in the 50th minute, but Steinhauer’s quick reflexes kept the game scoreless.
A last-ditch effort by Dinos defender Amy Mikuska in the 90th minute resulted in a wide miss, sending the game into overtime. There, the Dinos were able to generate more shots on goal than the Huskies, but it still wasn’t enough for them to win.
Playing in the final home game of her career, Gabruch found the back of the net on the Huskies’ first penalty kick to much delight of the cheering home crowd.
“I think it’s always an advantage if you go first, and to get that first one in puts more pressure on the other team,” said Gabruch about the importance of starting the penalty shootout strongly.
“We definitely knew [a shootout] would be a possibility, so we practiced it all during the week and we have a lot of confidence in our goalie, Jadyn.”
Gabruch’s goal was followed by a save from Steinhauer on the Dinos’ first attempt from the spot. However, a miss by the Huskies’ Payton Izsak and a goal from the Dinos’ Maiya Lee kept the crowd on their feet.
Huskies midfielders Haley Mercier and Jade Houmphanh found the back of the net, resulting in a must-score penalty kick for Calgary’s Amy Mikuska, but a final save by Steinhauer proved to be too much of a deficit for the Dinos to overcome.
It’s no surprise that Steinhauer was named Most Valuable Player for the Huskies in their quarter-final win over the Dinos, especially as she sustained a minor injury in the second half and battled through it to eventually make three penalty saves and win the game for her team.
“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment to make it as far as I possibly can, and there was no way I could step off the field. I needed to finish off strong and play for the team,” said Steinhauer.
Taneil Gay, a fifth-year midfielder for the Huskies, says her team played well, especially in the first half.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to score, but we did a good job holding the game off and eventually [won],” said Gay.
With their latest win, the Huskies are set to face the undefeated Trinity Western Spartans on Friday, Nov. 5 in Langley, B.C. If they are victorious, they are set to play either the UBC Thunderbirds or MacEwan Griffins for their first-ever Canada West Championship title.