The Niagara Knights women's soccer program (7-3, 2nd OCAA West) capped the most successful season in team history with a 2-1 victory over the St. Clair Saints (3-5-2, 4th OCAA West) on Sunday afternoon. With their seventh victory on the season, the Knights have set the new standard of regular season success for women's soccer at Niagara College.
Entering the game with 2nd place in the OCAA West division already secured, the Knights got off to a bit of a slow start. It would be Michelle Maecker (Fonthill) who opened the scoring for the Knights tapping home a rebound in the 42nd minute to provide a lead headed into halftime. Her 7th goal of the season, it was the second best single season scoring performance by a Knight. The goal also extends Maecker's career goal scoring record to 13. Rookie Katelyn Mix (Gilford) converted a long run from Amanda Borowski (Welland) in the 82nd minute to extend the Knights lead to two.
However, an ill-timed hand ball in the defensive box would provide St. Clair with their only offence late in the game. The Saints Jaclyn French would convert the penalty kick in the 87th minute to make things intersting. Despite the late rally the Knights would run out the clock to secure the victory and head to the playoffs on a winning note.
Rookie Sophia Al-Kayed (St. Catharines), who Head Coach Rob Lalama had singled out as being a key defensive contributer in the match, was pleased with the way the final regular season game was played. "We learned alot as a team today," said the St. Francis graduate, "Our communication, especially on defence, was amazing to see. I love seeing how we've grown as a team throughout the year."
As the season concludes, the Knights know the hard work is just beginning. "I cannot say enough about this team," said Coach Lalama. "We've worked hard all season and despite our regular season achievement, we are aware of the things we need to improve on to experience continued success."
With the regular season wrapped up, the attentionl now shifts to the OCAA Playoffs. The Knights will welcome the OCAA Central Division's 4th place team, likely to be the George Brown Huskies (2-5-2, 4th OCAA Central), in an OCAA Crossover game next weekend. The Knights hold a 3-0-1 overall record against the Huskies, although the teams haven't played since the 2016 season when Niagara was still in the Central division. As a program the Knights are looking for their first ever playoff win and OCAA Championship appearance. This year's championship will take place on October 25th-27th at Seneca College.
The Knights will now host an OCAA Crossover game on Saturday, October 20th at 1:30pm against the 4th seed in the OCAA Central Division. The game will take place at Youngs Sportsplex (570 River Road) and admission is free for all spectators.
Most Wins - Single Season: 7
Fewest Losses - Single Season: 3
Most Points - Single Season: 21
Highest Finish - Regular Season: 2nd OCAA West Division
Consecutive Win Streak: 4 (Sept 19 - Oct 2)
Individual Career Goals Record: Michelle Maecker - 13