On Thursday night, the University of Manitoba women’s soccer team took on the Winnipeg Wesmen in the first game of the Duckworth Challenge. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw on a frigid evening at Investor’s Group Field. Going into this year’s installment of the women’s soccer portion of the Duckworth Challenge, the Bisons had won all three games.
The opening ten minutes were lackluster, as both teams were feeling each other out. Selina Speranza did have the best chance when she got on the end of an early cross and attempted to chip it over Wesmen goalkeeper Taylor Thorkelsson but missed wide left.
Winnipeg had a chance of their own minutes later after Wesmen midfielder Maeghan Lindsay capitalized on a bad goal kick from Bison goalkeeper Maddie Wilford but she curled her shot just wide. Wilford had to come up big later after Wesmen Danielle Comeau ended up on a partial break but she courageously rushed the striker and smothered the ball.
Manitoba grabbed the lead in the 23rd minute when Sara Schur headed home a Jessie Harland free kick. Schur managed to take advantage of the quick free kick by communicating with Harland.
“We had a moment where I knew she was going to play it quick,” Schur said postgame. “I was just hoping, I had no idea if it was going in.”
Eleven minutes later the Wesmen tied it up after a Comeau cross that sliced through the Bison box to a wide-open Claire Preston, who sent the half volley past a sprawling Wilford.
“We gave them that goal,” head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas said after the game. “We didn’t mark tight enough in the box.”
Just before the end of the half, Bison forward Camille Plett got on a half break but put her shot right into Thorkelsson’s chest. The two local rivals went into the half level at one.
The Bisons were buzzing at the start of the second half, generating many chances, but were ultimately unable to find the net.
Plett had the best chance for the Bisons towards the end of the second half when she was alone in the box but had her shot deflect off of Wesmen midfielder Rachel Dunsmore.
“You have to sometimes have that bit of luck on your side,” Martinez Lagunas said. “The girls just need to calm down in front of the net.”
Winnipeg managed to hold on for the draw, making some good clearances and despite some defensive lapses, they survived the Bison onslaught.
“I need to give credit to Winnipeg, they fought hard,” Martinez Lagunas said. “They deserved the draw.”
Manitoba and Winnipeg will do battle again on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 12 p.m. at the Ralph Cantafio soccer fields.