This past weekend, the University of Manitoba women’s soccer team opened up their 2016 home campaign against the Saskatchewan Huskies and the Regina Cougars. The Bisons suffered a heartbreak on Saturday by losing 1-0 in the final minutes of the game. On Sunday the herd was held to a 0-0 draw by the Regina Cougars.
Manitoba is now 1-2-1 on the season and sits in a three-way tie for fourth in the Prairie division.
The Bisons were in tough against the Huskies in this game, as they struggled to get a foothold offensively, they finished with only one shot on goal. Saskatchewan dominated large parts of the game, with the Bisons having trouble building the game out of the back.
A few times goalkeeper Maddie Wilford caught the Huskies by surprise by hoofing some long kicks up to speedy forward Selina Speranza, but she was left alone up top for the Bisons too many times and was unable to threaten the Huskies’ goal.
Wilford came up big a few times for the Bisons, especially late in the second half when the herd was under an aerial bombardment with the Huskies earning multiple corner kicks. They had a whopping 16 on the night.
The Huskies were finally rewarded for their efforts when Leesa Eggum headed in off a corner in the 81st minute, breaking Bison hearts. Manitoba stormed back and generated some quality chances, but could not find the late equalizer.
Sunday’s contest against the Cougars was a frustrating match for the Bisons. They had plenty of great opportunities to score but they could not find that finish in the final third of the pitch.
Head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas said that was the difference on the day.
“We had plenty of chances to win the game, we just didn’t put it in,” she said, “We created our chances, we had the game in our hands.”
The Bisons looked a different team on Sunday. They were buzzing offensively and did a great job to carve open the Cougars’ defense to get good opportunities. Manitoba ramped up the pressure in the second half. Minutes after the restart, Speranza whipped a low cross into the box to Amanda Wong, who had her shot go off the post. Bruna Mavignier’s resulting shot was cleared off the goal line by a Cougars defender.
Late on in the second half, Speranza sent another low cross to the back post to Mavignier but she had her shot miraculously stopped by Cougars goalkeeper Ashton Lowry. It was a play that Martinez Lagunas thought would have won the Bisons the game.
“That was the game,” she said. “That was a key play and I thought we had won it off that.”
The Bisons played very well defensively, with Wilford making key saves again, as well as some great tackles by centre back Jessie Harland.
Having only managed to get one point in their opening home series, the Bisons still have room to improve.
“Moving forward, we need to work on finishing our chances,” Martinez Lagunas said. “We need to get our heads up and get ready for the next weekend – that’s all you can do.”
The Bisons head west next weekend to take on the Lethbridge Pronghorns and the Calgary Dinos.