By Thomas Becker
The Panthers impressive five-game stretch, in which they went 4-0-1, came to an end Sunday afternoon as the undefeated Cape Breton Capers came away with a 5-1 win.
Subway Player of the Game, Keona Simmonds and Ciera Disipio did most of the damage, scoring a pair each.
While the two continue to trade places as the league's top scorers (each have seven goals apiece), Simmonds said their success is built through a team model rather than individual achievements.
"It's a team dynamic," she said. "We play with the mindset that we're always here for each other."
The Capers came into this season with some unfinished business after the St. FX X-Women eliminated them in a penalty shootout in the 2016 semifinals. It's a tough but motivating reminder for Simmonds and the rest of her teammates who felt that heartbreak.
"Last season ended on a terrible note, so we just wanted to come back stronger and give it our all," Simmonds said.
On the windy afternoon, the Capers (7-0) were the first to draw blood just 13 minutes in. Simmonds gathered a cross from defenceman Becky Hannah in the penalty area and fired it past keeper Amanda Stanyer to open the scoring.
Cape Breton's high-powered offence, which leads the league in goals (3.5 per game), continued to do what they do best in the 35th minute when Disipio accepted a pass from Maddy Johnston and skipped the ball past Stanyer.
However, in the 42nd minute, the Panthers (4-3-1) ended the Capers' season-long shutout and had yet to surrender a goal in 2017. Now, Tyffanie Bordage is the only player who can say she scored against Cape Breton. And it was a great one. After stealing the ball from her defender, Bordage raced up the right side and fired across her body, beating goaltender Rachel Yerxa in the top left corner to trim the lead 2-1.
But at halftime, the Capers regrouped and showed why they're a tier above the rest. Just three minutes into the second half, Simmonds gathered an errant UPEI pass and found an open Disipio to her right for the score, restoring the two-goal advantage 3-1.
Cape Breton tacked on a couple more goals late in the game – Simmonds again in the 68th minute and Chelsea Foote in the 85th – to remain perfect on the season.
"To have a record like this and only giving up the one goal, it's been a great year for us," said Capers head coach Stephen Timmons. "We're happy going into the Thanksgiving weekend and hopefully we can continue to play this strong afterwards."
Meanwhile, Panthers head coach Graeme McDonald said he's proud with the way his team battled against a tough squad with championship aspirations, especially in the first 65 minutes when the game was still up for grabs.
"I think we can learn a lot from this team and have the belief in ourselves that we can compete with the best of them," he said.
The Panthers will get some time off before their season resumes on Oct. 15 when they take on the visiting Dalhousie Tigers.