After an undefeated season, the Providence Pilots women’s soccer team was the team to beat going into the championship weekend. In semi-final action, the Providence women took on a team they handled well in the regular season.
The game was really all Providence starting from the very beginning. Just over a minute into the game, Jessica Gzebb scored one of her two goals of the game which started an outburst from the defending champions.
MCAC Regular Season MVP and Steinbach, MB resident Julika Kehler continued her dominant play into the playoffs, where she netted two first half goals and added one more in the second half to complete the hat-trick. The scoring kept coming from the Pilots as Jessica Caul and Kate Osadchuk each had two goals as well to round out the 11-0 victory and a spot in the championship final.
In the men’s semifinal, Providence took on a Red River squad that was looking to upset the #1-seeded Pilots team. In the early goings, it seemed as though Providence was going to run away with the victory. Mitchell Martens continued his recent scoring run with two goals in the first twenty minutes of play.
Scoring would be hard to come by after that, however, seeing the next 60 minutes without a goal. A penalty kick was rewarded to Red River with 10 minutes left to play and they made no mistake on that one. It wasn’t enough for the Rebels on this day as Providence ran out the clock with excellent ball movement and found themselves one win away from repeating as champions of the MCAC.
Championship Sunday had the men and women’s Providence Pilots teams looking as good as they have been all season.
The women’s championship match had the Pilots faced off against a very strong defensive team in Red River. After playing two very close, low scoring games in the regular season, the final match of the year was no different. Providence was able to own the possession time but couldn’t put much offense together past a solid defensive structure.
Providence was able to open the scoring with Kate Osadchuk finishing off a beautiful corner kick from Jessica Gzebb. The game stayed 1-0 until almost an identical play happened with 20 minutes left. With another perfect cross off of a corner kick, this time by Steinbach’s Julika Kehler, Osadchuk headed in her second of the game.
The two goals were all the Pilots needed to claim top spot in the MCAC for the second year in a row as Providence blanked Red River 2-0. Kate Osadchuk of Brandon earned Player of the Game honors for her two goal performance while Jessica Gzebb earned tournament MVP with her dominant play all weekend.
Coach Giancarlo Calla was excited about this win. "I was proud of our effort, especially in the cold weather! It's always nice to win a championship and to win back to back is even better. I thought Kate was fantastic. She played an unbelievable final and definitely deserved both of her goals."
In men’s action, Providence took on an opponent in Saint-Boniface who gave them their only blemish of the regular season. The game played out in a very similar fashion as the women’s match. Providence was able to capitalize early as Adrian Neufeld made a beautiful deke around the keeper to tuck the ball into the open net.
The rest of the half played out very evenly with no goals coming until the dying seconds of the half. In injury time, Mitchell Martens put his speed on display as he flew down the middle to put in a rebound off of a free kick to give the Pilots a 2-0 lead. Just seconds later, the whistle blew for half time.
The high winds and good defense kept the score sheet blank in the second half. For the second year in a row, Providence men’s soccer earns top spot in the MCAC as they defeat Saint-Boniface 2-0. Mitchell Martens of Steinbach earned tournament MVP by scoring three of the four Providence goals in the tournament.
"I was very happy that we were able to play some attractive soccer this weekend despite the weather conditions," Coach Martin Ward says after the game. "Our teamwork was excellent and everyone on the squad contributed to winning this championship. I know the guys are having fun and I have not had this much fun as a coach before. We are happy that we get to extend our season with the NCCAA tournaments in the U.S. in a few weeks."