(FREDERICTON, NB) The newly minted U SPORTS No. 1 Saint Mary's Huskies beat the UNB Reds 1-0 Tuesday night, winning their best of three Atlantic University Sport semi-final series two games to none.
"I knew it was going to be a close game," said Huskies goalie Rebecca Clark (Keswick, ON). "UNB is a strong team and they'll only get better, but today we had just a little bit more will power."
Clark, who made 28 saves, was named Subway Player of the Game.
"UNB screens the net very well. They're a fast team, they've got good shots, but I was lucky enough, and my defence did a very good job, I could see the puck the whole way through."
The first period saw good scoring chances for both teams, and solid goaltending at both ends of the ice.
Kendra Woodland (Kamloops, BC), in the Reds net, and Clark, in the Huskies goal, were each called on to make big saves in the opening frame.
Late in the period, Saint Mary's Siobhan Birch (Mississauga, ON) had a chance from point blank range, off to the left of Woodland, but the goalie deflected the puck high and wide.
Moments later, the Reds' Hanna Matchett (Nanton, AB) hit Sage McElroy-Scott with a stretch pass. McElroy-Scott went in on a partial breakaway, but her shot went high, over Clark.
The two teams went to the first intermission with zeros on the scoreboard.
Mid-way through the second period, Madison Gray (Hammonds Plains, NS) took advantage of a Reds neutral zone turnover, broke in on Woodland and snapped a shot over her shoulder to give the Huskies their 1-0 lead.
Despite trailing, the Reds pushed, time and again, but the Huskies pushed back.
Just past the 2:00 mark of the third, Gray had another opportunity, breaking in alone on Woodland, but this time the Reds goalie made the save, on a shot from in close.
The Reds did everything they could in an attempt to score a tying goal, but it wasn't to be.
"I'm proud of them. We outshot the number one team in the country and took them right down to the wire and it could've (gone) either way," said Reds head coach Sarah Hilworth. "If you think of where we started and where we're at now, it's just, it's a process, and we have to keep chipping away, and I'm just so proud of them. What they've done this year, it's just incredible."
Tamina Kehler (Chilliwack, BC) led the Reds with six of UNB's 28 shots.
"We fought hard and pushed through, and I honestly think we should've had it, but it wasn't our game," she said. "You could feel how bad everyone wanted it. We were all pushing each other on, and cheering each other on. Regardless of the outcome, we gave it our all."
The Huskies advance to the AUS final, where they'll meet St FX.
The X-Women beat UPEI 3-2 on Tuesday, winning that series 2-0.
"We're excited, but we also know there's still a long road," said Clark, of the Huskies' continuing season. "We aren't getting too far ahead of ourselves. We'll take it a day at a time."
RECAP BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics
PHOTOS BY: Alex Dascalu/for UNB Athletics