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Axewomen fall short in handing Capers first loss

Axewomen fall short in handing Capers first loss

SYDNEY, N.S. – The now first-place Cape Breton University Capers (6-0-2) remain undefeated in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women's soccer regular season after scoring a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Acadia Axewomen (6-2-2) on Sunday afternoon at the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex. 

The matchup featured a pair of top-10 programs in U SPORTS, with the Capers and Axewomen ranked eighth and ninth, respectively.  

Subway player of the match, Abby MacNeil (New Waterford, N.S.), notched the game-winning goal in the 85th minute.  

The marker came off a left-footed cross from Erin Freeman (Halifax, N.S.), one that eluded an Acadia defender and Caper forward Aliyah Rowe (Kitchener, ON) before finding the foot of MacNeil, who punched the ball into an open net. 

"It feels awesome – getting a big home win against a strong side like Acadia," veteran midfielder Amelia Carlini (Ottawa, ON) said after the match.  

In a tightly-contested first half, the teams exchanged quality chances, but no one could break the seal on scoring early on. 

In the 27th minute, off a corner kick from Ally Wilton (Bedford, N.S.), Carlini's header just missed against Acadia keeper Milena Ramirez (New Minas, N.S.). 

A couple of minutes later, Ramirez deflected a Wilton header that scraped over the top of the crossbar. 

In the 34th minute, Mya Harnish (Lower Sackville, N.S.) made a great effort to keep the ball in, which led to a nifty rush from Jayden Boudreau (Halifax, N.S.), whose quick left-footed shot from the top of the box was stopped by a diving Haley Kardas (Halifax, N.S.). The rebound spilled to Brenna Kennedy (Fletcher's Lake, N.S.), who poked it into the gaping net. 

Late in the opening stanza, in the 41st minute, Rowe had a chance to equal the contest, but Ramirez gobbled up her hard shot from distance.   

"I thought we played really well," Carlini said, noting the one-goal deficit did not reflect their performance in the opening half.  

Early in the second half, in the 53rd minute, the Capers took advantage of an Axewomen turnover, with Amy Lynch (Sydney, N.S.) racing into the offensive zone before being hauled down in the penalty area. On the ensuing penalty kick, veteran Rebecca Lambke (Antigonish, N.S.) ripped a blast that Ramirez had no chance to reach.   

The home side continued to press – utilizing the wind that was in their favour in the second half, along with a seemingly tiring Acadia side that was coming off a tough match one day earlier versus the STFX X-Women in Antigonish. 

In the 71st minute, Freeman made a move on a couple Acadia defenders but Ramirez made easy work of her weaker-than-intended strike. 

Seconds later, on the counter-attack, Boudreau raced in for the Axewomen, but Kardas made an easy save on her strike aimed at the near post.  

The trio of Freeman, Rowe and Wilton tried to muster up an insurance marker in the following minutes, but they could not penetrate the Acadia defense. 

The final quality Acadia scoring opportunity came in the 87th minute, but Kardas was able to smother a re-direction off the foot of Rosie Nichols (Toronto, ON). 

Carlini praised the Capers' team effort, including the strong play of their wings and backline. 

"It was great to see her score," she added of MacNeil's deciding marker. 

Carlini noted moving into first place in the conference garners "such a good feeling." 

"We have worked hard, so I think it is well deserved," she said.  

The Capers will return to action Saturday, Oct. 23, when they host the Mount Allison Mounties in a 1 p.m. kickoff, while the Axewomen will welcome the Memorial Sea-Hawks on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 12 p.m. 

By Corey LeBlanc