The Brock Badgers women’s Soccer team lost 1-0 to the Western Mustangs on Saturday. Brock came into the weekend looking to extend their lead on McMaster in the OUA-West standings. The team put in a great effort under the hot sun but could not find the back of the net against a Western team that holds the top spot in the standings.
The first half saw strong defensive play from both sides. Players were hesitant to gamble and take risks as they looked to conserve energy. The heat certainly played a factor.
The Mustangs nearly opened the scoring — but the goal was called back after the linesman ruled the play offside. It was still worrying that poor marking left the Western attackers open on a routine free kick.
Sam Bayer was the best Badger on the field in the first half with strong play down the left wing. She might have drained herself out as she was off the field to start the second half, and did not look as dangerous when she returned on the field.
After a longer half-time to give the players more time to recuperate, the Western team came out stronger in the second half. They controlled possession and put lots of pressure on the ball to forcing turnovers from the Badgers.
After some brilliant saves by Brock goalkeeper Marilena Spagnolo, the Badgers’ back line overcommitted on a routine run, and left Spagnolo to parry off the shot by the Western striker. Unfortunately, the rebound went right to another purple shirt, and the Mustangs would score the only goal of the game.
“We just momentarily switched off,” said Coach Kevin Trethowan. “I don’t think [the goal] was necessarily created by them, they just capitalized on our mistakes.”
The goal was the sparkplug that the fatigued Badgers corps needed and their pressure indicated a goal was on the horizon with some inspired play in the closing portion of the game. The closest they would come, however, was when Alex Crawford hit a free kick right off the crossbar, looking to follow up on her screamer the previous week. Needless to say, Crawford has cemented her role as the team’s set piece taker.
The move to go to a back three against the Mustangs was a brilliant decision by Threthowan.
“Western likes to play the ball wide and then play direct into the striker, or they play long over the top (which had been an issue in previous games). So our thought process behind [going to a back three against the Mustangs] was that if we have a little bit more defensive width, we can try to prevent them, and if they do get into those channels, we have two players that can slide in. For the most part I think it worked, they started to get frustrated, that’s credit to us.”
On the whole, Coach Trethowan has continued to differ to “the process” when searching for answers on his team’s shortcomings. He has constantly applauded his team for their play in training as he meticulously plans out each practice to prepare for game-day, but has yet to see it translate onto the field.
“Like I said before, it is a process and we are turning a corner. What we’re finding is that we’re still making mistakes, but they’re getting fewer and fewer,” said Trethowan.
It will only matter though once those mistakes are few enough to grind out some results, as Trethowan has maintained his confidence in making the playoffs this year, especially after their draw on Sunday against Windsor. They get a golden opportunity as they play a doubleheader against Algoma this weekend, who have lost every game this season.
“We’re going to brush everything off today. There’s no point in dwelling on it. We’re going to continue to play this way.”
Brock will travel to Sault Ste. Marie next weekend to play two games against Algoma.