After returning to the OUA playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Brock women’s soccer team is looking to build off a 6-6-4 season that ended in a first round loss to McMaster. It was a strange 2018 season for the Badgers; they started the year on a two-game winning streak, then didn’t win a game between August 31 and October 6, and finished the season off by winning four in a row. The Badgers cannot afford a winless streak like that again, as this year’s OUA season contains 14 games instead of the usual 16, making each game more important than ever. Just like the men’s team, the women also struggled to score last year, averaging just 1.19 goals per game; when you remove the 5-0 outlier against lowly Algoma, the number dwindles to just 0.87.
Luckily for the Badgers, they didn’t have to score all that much thanks to the outstanding play of 2018 OUA All-Star goalkeeper Marilena Spagnolo, who stopped an incredible 100 shots in just 16 games last year, good enough for third in the OUA. Spagnolo never allowed more than two goals in a game last year, and finished the season with six shutouts (four shutout wins). It’s safe to say that the Badgers are without a doubt a defensive team.
“The most important thing is that we don’t concede any goals. If you don’t concede a goal, you don’t lose, so you have to build from the back. You can score as many goals as you want but if you don’t have a backline that is strong enough to defend against the opposition, then your going to constantly be leaking goals,” said head coach Kevin Trethowan.
Along with Spagnolo, midfielder Brianne Desa and forward Sam Bayer were also named as OUA All-Stars, with Desa leading the team in goals, points and shots as a rookie. Both players are back and look to carry a large part of the offensive load this season. “We just have to be more compact in the midfield,” said Trethowan when speaking of his teams’ offensive struggles. “We have to start defending from the front. Often times we’ll get bypassed, and Marilena gets a lot of shots on goal. If we can make sure that we’re protecting the area in front of her, especially the central areas, then we should alleviate the amount of work she has to do.”
With a recruiting class that saw the Badgers bring five new players to the roster, the energy around coach Trethowan’s team is very high.
Among those new recruits are defenders Mia DiPasquale and Chiara Lancia, as well as striker Erica D’Alesio, forward Adrianna Belfer-Marin and goalkeeper Isabelle Newkirk.
“We’ve got a very good recruiting class this year,” said Trethowan. “All of [our new recruits] are coming in playing a high standard, so they’re coming in fit. Ivana Kanisek, she played 90 minutes [on Saturday] and 70 minutes [on Sunday]. Back-to-back OUA games in the centre-midfield is incredibly physically challenging, so to have a recruit come in and play at game speed is amazing. We’re fortunate this year to have a lot of recruits in that same mold.”
The pieces are in place for the Badgers to make a second straight postseason appearance, and with the Badgers winning both exhibition games (1-0 against Dero United and 2-1 against Ryerson), the stage is set for what looks to be an exciting year. The Badgers first two regular season games both ended in ties, with a final of 0-0 at Waterloo, followed by a 1-1 draw against Windsor, with Erica D’Alesio scoring her first goal as a Badger.
The Badgers are on the road to take on the Guelph Gryphons on Friday, before returning home to face McMaster on Sep. 14.