The Bison women’s soccer team engaged in a tough battle Sept. 28 against the undefeated and nationally ranked Alberta Pandas, playing to a 0-0 draw.
The two teams met at the University of Manitoba turf field amidst exceptionally rainy conditions. Manitoba was looking to continue their momentum from their last game, where they picked up their first win of the season against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
The game began with heavy pressure from Alberta. The Pandas dictated the pace, outshooting the Bisons 13-1 in the first half and forcing Manitoba goalie Chloe Werle to stay on her toes. The Bisons had trouble cracking a difficult Alberta defence, as they were kept out of range for most of the half.
Manitoba had the best chance to get on the scoreboard in the opening 45 minutes. It came off of a beautiful cross from forward Selina Speranza to Laura Stewart in front of the goal, but Stewart’s header sailed just wide. Alberta kept the play in the Manitoba zone for the remainder of the first half. Werle stayed strong, keeping the game tied heading into the break.
The Bisons managed to pick their tempo up in the second half. Backed by a stellar performance from Werle, Manitoba was able to apply more offensive pressure.
Around the 75th minute, Alberta got their best chance of the game on an accurate shot that was mishandled by Werle in the wet conditions. The rebound ended up just wide.
In the 85th minute, Manitoba had a fantastic opportunity to break the tie. A well-taken Bison free kick sent the ball on net and was fought out of Alberta goalie Kelti Biggs’ hands by Laura Stewart. A battle in the Alberta box ensued, but Biggs was able to recover the ball.
Despite both teams getting great looks at goal, the keepers at either end of the field could not be beat.
Bison head coach Vanessa Martinez-Lagunas stated that one of the goals today was to get a shutout, which the team achieved successfully. She was proud of the way her team played, including how they learned from their early season mistakes and made defensive adjustments.
“We defended as a unit. The defensive work started with our forwards. They did amazing, really helped us. The midfielders covered so many yards today. I’m just really, really proud of this team.”
The head coach felt the team’s future looked bright.
“We need to make sure we keep this momentum, and just keep getting better,” said Martinez-Lagunas. “I see a lot of potential.”
– Mike Still
* * *
After their moral victory in a scoreless tie with the nationally ranked Alberta Pandas, the Bisons hoped to continue building momentum the following day as they took on the Mount Royal Cougars.
The Bisons rarely capitalized on their scoring chances through their first five games of the season, but were in exceptional form on Sunday. Elyce Molyneaux opened the scoring for the Bisons at the sixth minute, scoring a direct goal off of a free kick. Fifteen minutes later, Daniella Scerbo scored after breaking in one-on-one with Cougar goaltender Kelsey Marklund, giving the Bisons a 2-0 lead.
Mount Royal would tie the game before the half, with goals coming in the 39thand 55th minutes.
The wind began to pick up in the second half, which seemed to stifle both offences. It wasn’t until the 81st minute that the Bisons would regain the lead. Scerbo scored her second goal of the game, with an assist from Megan Graca. With a slim lead in the final 10 minutes, the Bisons looked to secure their second win of the season.
It wasn’t meant to be,. The Cougars tied it up in the 87th minute.
With the tie, the Bisons are now 1-3-3 on the season and currently 10th in the Canada West conference, three points out from a playoff spot.
– Marc Lagace