May 19th, 2024

Kodiaks ousted from playoffs

By Dale Woodard on October 19, 2021.

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s soccer team has been dethroned as the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference champions, while the women’s team will have to wait another year to build on their provincial bronze medals.

Facing the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings in the ACAC semifinals Sunday afternoon in Red Deer, the Kodiaks men were topped 5-1 by the Kings as the defense of their 2019 ACAC crown came to an end.

On Sunday at the Servus Sports Centre, the Kodiaks women – who went 5-1 in the regular season to clinch second place in the ACAC South Division and earn a bye to the semifinal – dropped a 2-1 decision to the Red Deer Queens in extra time.

After losing 4-0 to the Kodiaks to start the ACAC regular season Sept. 17 in Red Deer, the Queens scored some payback as Paige Kalbfleisch scored late in the second, 15-minute extra session for the game-winner.

The win sends the Queens to the ACAC South Division gold medal game against the 6-0 SAIT Trojans Saturday in Calgary.

The Kodiaks season ends with a heartbreaker despite a heroic effort from goaltender Kara Kamai, who made several key saves to get the game to overtime, including stopping a penalty shot early in the second half.

But with their roster taking an early hit Sunday, the Kodiaks were unable to defend a 1-0 halftime lead on a goal from Ashley Sazalski.

“I think they wanted it more than we did,” said Kodiaks’ co-coach Sean Carey. “The energy level was at a different level than ours. I don’t make excuses for groups, but we were definitely banged up and losing our two starting centre backs (Krista Van diemen and Gillian McCrimmon) early in the game really impacted how we were able to play.”

Sazalski scored in the eighth minute, getting past the Queens defenders and around Red Deer goaltender Danyelle Bouvier for a tap-in goal.

The Queens pressed in the second half as the Kodiaks defended their 1-0 lead before Red Deer’s Jenica Swartz finally found a way past Kamai in the 78th minute.

However, the Kodiaks goaltender kept it 1-0 early in the second half, turning away a penalty shot.

“I usually watch the player’s planting foot because it points in which direction they’re going,” said Kamai.

“But it’s hit or miss. You really have to watch that foot to make sure it’s pointing whatever way. But most of the time you just choose a side and hope for the best.”

Red Deer nearly netted the go-ahead goal in the dying seconds of regulation, but Kamai was able to charge out and deny the chance as the game headed to extra time.

After a scoreless first 15 minutes, the Queens netted the winner when Red Deer’s Jaden Humphrey’s initial shot rattled off the post, but in the ensuing scramble Kalbfleisch was able to finish off the chance.

“Obviously we tried our best and it was a difficult game, a couple of hard tackles here and there and a couple of confusing calls from the referee, in my opinion. But we all tried our best and were in 100 per cent,” said Kamai, who stopped 11 of 13 shots Sunday. “They were 100 per cent in it, they wanted to win. We were caught off-guard a little bit. But it was a very good game from both ends. We both tried our best.”

Carey credited his goaltender for the key penalty shot stop to briefly keep it 1-0.

“I think it gives them a huge lift,” said Carey. “It gives us a lift on the bench, the girls back to being positive, because we know we did not play our best game today. But I don’t take anything away from Red Deer. They played well. I would like to play them with a full roster, and we had done earlier in the season and I think that result shows. It’s just devastating to end a season this way.

“We had expectations this year and I think we’ve really let ourselves down and it could have been an extremely good year for us. We just have to look forward and make sure we get all these girls back healthy, whether it’s futsal if there’s a season, if not, next fall.”

Kamai said Sunday’s loss will push her for 2022 when she returns for her second year at Lethbridge College

“I’m just motivated to get back and practise and get better with the team. We have a great group of girls and we’re all just going to push harder for next year and we’re going to do great.”

Kamai played a year of college soccer in Manitoba before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“But coming to the Kodiaks’ team it’s a lot more intense,” she said. “It’s a lot more dedication here. We’re like a family on the team. Everybody cares for each other and we just want what’s best for each other.”

On the Kodiaks men’s side, the 2019 ACAC champions earned the right to play for another day thanks to their 4-1 win over the Ambrose Lions Friday afternoon at the Servus Sports Centre.

But on Sunday, the Kings opened up a 1-0 lead at the half and added four more in the second half to earn the win.

Jaden Veluw netted the lone Kodiaks goal, scoring in the 76th minute to spoil the Kings’ shutout.

Kodiaks’ goaltender Trey Lukye stopped six of 11 shots in the loss.

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