Two first half goals were enough for the Cape Breton Capers, who got their national championship off on the right foot with a 2-0 victory over the Western Mustangs in the first quarterfinal match.
Amelia Carlini and Fatou Ndiaye provided the scoring, while goalkeeper Rachel Yerxa kept a clean sheet to send the Nova Scotians through to the semifinals.
The Mustangs and the Capers have history, as they squared off in the semifinals of last year’s National Championship. Cape Breton emerged as 1-0 victors, before losing to the Université de Montréal in the gold medal game.
A stiff wind at Gee-Gees Field made maintaining possession difficult for both teams. However, the breeze did not dampen the spirits of a boisterous, capacity crowd of school children.
The Capers got on the board just under 16 minutes in. Off a corner kick, Carlini rose above her marker at the back post and directed the ball past a helpless goalkeeper. Cape Breton had been in control for the majority of the match, and the Ottawa native’s goal was well-deserved.
“My job on corners is to be back post because I’m strong with my head,” said Carlini. “When the ball was coming, I was calm. I didn’t panic and just headed it down.”
Carlini set up another opportunity in the 32nd minute. The midfielder squared the ball for Ciera Disipio, but her low drive was stopped by Western ‘keeper Megan Girardi.
Western started pushing back, but with the half coming to a close, Ndiaye took advantage of a defensive breakdown and slotted the ball into the bottom corner. Ndiaye showed great composure to double Cape Breton’s lead on the stroke of halftime.
Despite being down a brace, the Mustangs threw everything they had at the Capers to start the second 45. Striker Julia Crnjac had a good look at goal, but Rachel Yerxa charged her down to make a commanding save.
The second half was largely contested in the midfield, with neither team able to carve out many quality chances. The Capers continued applying pressure to see the game off.
“We had Western last year so we knew what to expect from them,” said Carlini, who was named Player of the Game. “We had a game plan going in and we followed it and it was a good win for us.”
The Capers will advance to the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the second quarterfinal between Trinity Western and Laval. Western will play in the consolation bracket against the loser of that game on Friday.
Players of the Game
- Cape Breton: Amelia Carlini
- Western: Kiera Grein