By Thomas Becker
A quick goal in the opening 20 seconds was all the defending champions, St. FX X-Women, needed in a 4-0 shutout of the UPEI Panthers.
Kelsey Ellis' tally was a harsh reminder for the Panthers of the speed and intensity that's played in an AUS regular season match – something the team hasn't had the luxury of experiencing since last October.
"Welcome back to the AUS," said head coach Graeme McDonald. "We'll move forward from here and be better prepared next time."
After getting shell-shocked by the early score, the Panthers bounced back in the half and played a more competitive brand of soccer.
"I was pleased with the way we possessed the ball and attacked," he said. "It's something we can build on."
In the 22nd minute, Panthers Kristin Hood and Tyffanie Bordage executed a beautiful give and go, but Hood couldn't connect on her shot, missing wide left of the net.
UPEI continued to put pressure on the defending champions, but to no avail, as the X-Women carried the slim 1-0 lead into halftime.
Hoping to turn their fortunes around, McDonald elected to use reserve Sarah MacVarish at striker to open the second half.
The move seemed to spark the Panthers, as MacVarish quickly made her presence felt. On a touch pass from Bordage, MacVarish sprinted past the defence but couldn't get a quality shot off.
Despite creating more chances for themselves, the spark couldn't really ignite. A missed opportunity with a corner kick turned ugly when the X-Women countered on a 3-on-2 breakaway. Mercy Myles took it in alone and booted it past the helpless keeper to extend the lead 2-0.
Just seconds later, Myles made the Panthers pay yet again, assisting on Ellis' second goal of the contest for a commanding 3-0 advantage.
"We didn't play as well as we could have in the first half," said Myles. "The coaching staff corrected some of our mistakes and I think we were more effective in the second."
Larissa White would later add to the X-Women lead in the 82nd for the 4-0 final.
The Panthers will have to put this one behind them as they're back at it on Sunday (Sept. 10) when they hit the road and take on the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus.