The women’s team was edged out of the playoffs by a tenacious McMaster team. The first half went scoreless. Both teams had a few solid opportunities but goaltending and defence prevented them from capitalising on those chances. Marilena Spagnolo was, as always, impressive in net for the Badgers as McMaster outshot Brock 19-7.
The first goal came in the second half when Lindsay Bosveld scored eight minutes into the half. That would turn out to be the game winner.
“I think we had opportunities to take a shot and I think we were looking for something other than a shot especially when you’re down 1-0, you’ve got to take your chances more and look for scoring opportunities,” said head coach Lucio Ianiero.
Ianiero was handed the reins of this team early in their season after leading the men’s team for nearly half a decade. He hopes to return as coach of both teams next season.
“Hopefully, if I’m the coach again next year — and I hope to be — then we’re going to continue to build on the things that we started this year. We’ll be stronger,” he said.
The team has reasons to be proud of themselves. From a 7-3-4 regular season record, to a fourth place finish in the OUA West that led to their first playoff game on home turf in recent memory.
“We came in and we took a team that we were familiar with and we tried to implement some new things and it took a little bit of time for them to grasp the concept, the philosophy, and our vision as of how we want them to play. Super proud of the girls. They shouldn’t hang their heads. I know there’s a lot of senior girls on the team that are very emotional right now. But we will come back strong,” said Ianiero.
Jared Agyemang won the game for the Badgers, capitalising on a penalty kick in overtime to send the Badgers into the second round of the playoffs.
Ianiero had to clear the women’s loss from his mind to coach the men’s game immediately after. The Badgers were set to take on the Windsor Lancers.
“They’re a very good team, very energetic. They have a great striker up front. It’ll be a good game. They’ve travelled four hours to come play us today so hopefully they’ve got a bit of jetlag we’ll call it, heavy legs. We hope to carry some energy in the first half,” said Ianiero before the game.
The game was intense from the beginning. Both teams were fighting for their playoff lives and over 300 anxious Badger fans were packed into the stands at Alumni Field.
Windsor struck first but Brock quickly answered when Agyemang tied it up just before the end of the half.
The Lancers and Badgers traded goals until the end of regulation time. Tanner Page, of the Windsor Lancers, recorded a hat trick and Sebastian Agudo and Daniel Buccianti added to Brock’s total.
The game headed into overtime. It had been a rough game from the start as fouls and complaints about officiating plagued the match. It was only fitting that it would come down to a penalty kick.
“The referee made the right call, he could have easily let it go, especially with a minute left,” said Ianiero.
Agyemang’s goal sent the crowd into a frenzy as family and friends poured onto the field to offer congratulations. There were chants of victory, tears of happiness. The Badgers may have never hosted a home playoff game, but the fans showed up like they knew what it took to cheer on a winning team.
“Playing on this field is always an advantage — for some reason we seem to play well. Maybe it’s the crowd — I don’t know. Maybe it’s our fans. The crowd definitely helped us in many situations,” said Ianiero.
The Badgers went on to the second round of the playoffs where they played the nationally ranked Guelph Gryphons. The Gryphons shut the Badgers out 3-0 on their own field. Reigning U Sports soccer MVP Jace Kotsopoulos returned from injury to score two goals for the Gryphons; the third goal was scored by Jonathon Amoo. After missing the playoffs completely last season, the Badgers defied expectations by even earning a place in the second round.