The Brock women’s soccer team hadn’t won a game since August 25, but somehow, a postseason berth was still on their minds this past weekend.
The Badgers entered play with a pair of games against the OUA West Division basement-dwelling Algoma Thunderbirds. The Badgers were in the midst of a tough stretch, going 0-6-4 since their last win. If they took care of business against Algoma, they had the potential to find themselves in a favourable position entering the final weekend of their regular season.
“The thing is when you look at our results, the results don’t look that great because it’s lots of ties and lots of losses, but the performances are there. It’s just a case of getting it to click at the right time,” said Badgers head coach Kevin Trethowan.
Saturday was a step in the right direction towards getting things back on track, as the Badgers managed to grab a 2-1 win. An early fourth minute goal from Melanie Schouten set the tone for the Badgers, then Brianne Desa tallied a late first half goal to add some insurance. Algoma provided a threat by cutting the lead in half in the 66th minute, but the Badgers managed to hold off the Thunderbirds.
The Badgers built off of that result on Sunday, as their offense erupted early and often to the tune of five first-half goals. Samantha Bayer led all scorers with the first two goals of the match, and Cassandra Stirpe, Desa and Schouten followed along with goals of their own. That was more than enough offense in front of a shared clean sheet by goalkeepers Emma Hendrie and Marilena Spagnolo. The game ended with a final score of 5-0.
“It’s massive, it’s just a big confidence booster mainly for the girls,” Trethowan said.
“That was our target, our aim was to come in and get six points. Algoma is a very hard working team and they make it difficult for you. We were always going to make chances and we had to make the chances count and today, fortunately, we did.”
With the six points added to their season total, the 4-6-4 Badgers find themselves in a position where they control their own playoff destiny heading into next weekend.
“With the way it stands at the moment we just need a tie at Waterloo on Saturday and that guarantees playoffs. If that result doesn’t come and we pick up three [points] against Laurier we’re still in the playoffs. So we’ve still got a very good chance and we’re turning the corner at the right time,” Trethowan said.
With the Badgers’ early cushion on the scoreboard on Sunday, Trethowan was able to dive deeper into his bench and get more players involved in his rotation. Ahead of what will be the biggest weekend of the team’s season, he saw this as a valuable experience for his roster.
“Massive for the players’ morale and players’ confidence. Some players this season have seen the field regularly and some have barely had a sniff, so it’s good and at this point we were fortunate where we could get some of the players that have not had as much time, get them in, get them some good run and get them some OUA experience.”
It was a full team effort from the Badgers and one that was very necessary for their hopes to continue their season in the playoffs. As previously mentioned, these were their first wins since the opening weekend of the season. It just so happens that the wins the Badgers earned back on Aug. 24 and 25 came against the teams they face this weekend in their most important games of the season.
“It’s big confidence for us, the girls know we can beat them and I think when you look at the context of both games against Waterloo and Laurier, we dominated. And we probably should’ve won by more than a single goal. So all I’m going to be saying to the girls is take the six points this weekend, take this performance, take the knowledge that we’ve beaten these teams before and just really instill that confidence in them and that belief in there so that they know they can do it.”
The Badgers will look to clinch their postseason position in Waterloo on Oct. 20 against the Warriors and will finish up their regular season at home on Oct. 21 against the Laurier Golden Hawks at Alu