By: Aaron Walsh – The Brock Press
For the second straight week, the Badgers would have the pleasure of playing in their own backyard and it would be vital to pick up at least one win after being so close to victory in their recent games.
Despite the lack of goals, Durish’s side has shown that they are certainly hard to break down defensively. Undefeated in three, with a levelling goal in the dying minutes on Sept 14. by Kelly Miller (Brantford, Ont.) against the Windsor Lancers, it demonstrated going into their next game against the Guelph Gryphons that the Badgers have a never say die attitude.
With an overcast of cloud, conditions were not as glorious as their home opener but still perfect for another solid performance. Head coach John Durish made several changes to the starting 11 which saw last week’s striker Nadia Bathish (Keswick, Ont.) slotting in at centre-back, Alex Crawford (Markham, Ont.) switched from playing right-winger and dropped into right-back and left-back Miller pushed up as the lone striker in a defensive 4-5-1 formation.
The first half was a scrappy affair from both the Badgers and Gryphons as they failed to take care of the ball, which lead to many turnovers of possession occurring within the middle of the pitch.
The Gryphons were able to establish more attacking flare within the final third creating five chances, but those chances never looked like they would hurt Jenna Vasiliaskas (Burlington, Ont.) in-between the goalposts.
The biggest threat to the Badgers was themselves. Their transition from defence to offense was reckless for the most part. The urgency and precision was comfortable from moving the ball from the defence to the midfield, but the link up play from the midfield into feeding the lone striker was lacking the final piece of quality.
At times, Miller was chasing lost causes in the final attacking third, which allowed the Gryphons to easily retain possession from the defensive line. Unfortunately Miller’s day would be cut short as potential fatigue from the game on Saturday forced her to be carried off injured just before the break.
With more dark clouds drawing in, the whistle blew and the second half was underway. Lindsay MacDonald (Burlington, Ont.) replaced Miller as the lone striker and the Badgers came out of the blocks rapidly pressuring the Gryphons all over. This caused Guelph to defend very deep on the edge of their 18-yard box.
But to no avail the decisive pass was still lacking. Both Badger’s full-backs Sara Vitaterna (Niagara Falls, Ont.) and Crawford took good care of the ball, keeping the ball on the ground and seeking the simple option, but again the chemistry between midfield and the striker was nonexistent. In the 77th minute Bathish struck a wonder ball from a free kick roughly 45 yards just gracing the top of Guelph’s crossbar.
With the turnovers occurring within the final third far too often, it did not allow Brock’s defence to push out leading them to defend far too deeply and allow the Gryphons to pin Brock in their own half for long spells.
The ladies held fast for the most part but unfortunately their hard defending would come undone. In the 78th minute a quick one-two pass from Guelph’s striker and left winger pierced Brock’s back four and allowed striker Courtney Whiteside (Guelph, Ont.) to go one-on-one with keeper Vasiliakas.
Whiteside’s first strike ricocheted off the inside of the post but she followed in for rebound to make it 1-0 Gryphons. This would be the fatal blow to tarnish Brock’s unbeaten run, but with the hard defensive work rate demonstrated so far; the Badgers still stand in contention to fight for the final playoff spot.
With the support of Homecoming near, the sea of red shirts could rally the team on to their first victory of the season.