The Laval Rouge Et Or (5-0-1) overpowered the McGill Martlets (3-2-1) 3-1 on Friday night at Molson Stadium. The Martlets struggled to execute offensively in this tough matchup and fell to fourth place in the RSEQ.
“This game is always such a difficult one,” junior goalkeeper Cassandra Fafalios said. “They’re the best team, technically, that we play every year.”
The 2015 CIS rankings confirm Fafalios’ statement. Laval won last year’s National Championship and have maintained their No. 1 ranking, beginning the season undefeated.
From the starting whistle, Laval dominated possession. Without the steady presence of veteran sweeper Zoe Fasoulakis—who was sitting due to a concussion—the Martlets’ defence was spread thin. After a quick attack down the wing towards the byline, Laval sent a cross into the box, which was deflected by a McGill defender. The ball trickled out and was smashed in on the rebound by Laval’s Cynthia Turcotte, her first goal of the season, which put Laval up 1-0.
The Martlets got off to a slow start, allowing Laval to control the ball in the midfield and pressure the McGill zone early on. From the sideline, Head Coach Jose-Luis Valdes urged his players to press Laval’s back line to force a mistake and win possession.
The hosts responded with a greater sense of urgency and soon equalized. In the sixth minute, fifth-year forward and captain Rebecca Green scored an unassisted equalizer, blowing by the left side of the Laval defence before slotting it away.
The Rouge Et Or came back with an explosive counterattack, narrowly missing on a myriad of scoring opportunities. McGill relied heavily on Fafalios to keep the scores level going into the break.
In the second half, the Rouge et Or proved to be too much for McGill. Striker Lea Chastenay-Joseph scored in the 51st and 64th minute to put the game out of reach. McGill’s only good chance came in the 62nd minute when Sophomore science student Audrey-Ann Coughlan, hit the crossbar with a free kick, narrowly missing a chance to tie up the match.
Valdes was pleased with his players despite the outcome.
“Right to the last second, everybody on the field was going all out,” he said. “That’s the type of energy I’m very happy with.”
Fafalios was was superb once again on Sunday against the Montreal Carabins (3-0-3), making 13 saves to salvage a 0-0 tie and maintain McGill’s second place position in the division.
Moment of the Match
Green’s goal evened the score early, which rallied a strong defensive performance from the team for the rest of the half. Inspired play kept Laval from breaking through until the second half.
Stat of the Match
Fafalios recorded 10 saves in the match, the most by a McGill keeper this season. None was more impressive than her leaping stop in the second half to keep a shot out of the top left corner.
They had six players with me at the World University Games this summer. We only have one. That gives you an idea of the talent pool that they have.” Head Coach Jose-Luis Valdes on Laval’s talent.