With thunderclouds rumbling outside, the U of M Bisons women’s soccer team headed inside to the Winnipeg Soccer Federation South Complex for a pair of games against a pair of basement-dwelling Pacific Coast opponents this weekend. The change in venue did nothing to throw off the herd as Manitoba picked up a weekend sweep.
On a dark and stormy Friday night the Bisons shone in a 4-0 win over the visiting Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack.
Two quick markers from Nicole Davis were all the Bisons needed to put TRU on its heels, and goals by Stefanie Young and Jessica Tsai buried the Wolfpack who could not respond.
Young had a monster game for the herd, setting up both Davis goals to go along with her own.
Both sides traded chances throughout the first half, until Davis turned on the jets to burn the Wolfpack in her wake. Davis got a touch in transition, knifing the ball past a defender then beating her with speed.
The quick midfielder corralled the ball and tapped it past TRU keeper Danielle Robertson for a 1-0 Bisons lead in the 12th minute.
Davis was moved up into an attacking midfield position for the weekend, a decision Bisons head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas used for a more offence-focused approach.
“She was dangerous the whole match,” Martinez Lagunas said.
“We wanted her to get that hat trick — that’s why she came back into the game — and she almost [got it], and I’m so proud of her.”
Also moved forward in the formation was defender Young, who Martinez Lagunas elected to play just behind the forwards in a roving position.
“We did that because we wanted more attack, more power,” Martinez Lagunas said.
Martinez Lagunas credited Young’s versatility and determination, adding the defender’s competitiveness is a boon because “she makes it contagious to the whole team, and that’s what we need.”
This increased offensive role for both Davis and Young paid dividends for the herd in the 27th minute as Young chipped the ball over the TRU defence to a streaking Davis, and she found twine for a 2-0 Manitoba lead.
Young came close to snagging a marker of her own late in the half, as she sent a heavy shot from centre field on goal. Robertson knocked down the shot to keep her club close and the two sides went into halftime with the herd up 2-0.
After Tsai made it 3-0 Manitoba in the second half, Young got her goal. She unleashed another cannon from midfield and went bar down on Robertson for the goal and 4-0 Bisons lead.
Davis nearly completed the hat trick late, but the TRU keeper got enough on it to deflect the chance away and the Bisons took home the 4-0 win.
With a win driven by high-powered offence in its pocket, Manitoba proved wins in tight games were just as possible Saturday with a 1-0 win in a defensive battle with the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat.
Saturday’s game was a quiet affair in the first half, with both sides trading chances and testing more than attacking.
Manitoba’s best chance of the opening 45 came off the foot of Young, looking for her second goal of the weekend. A through ball was sent her way and Young drove a shot toward the goal, just clearing over the crossbar.
Young’s determination paid off in added time of the first half as she picked up the ball off a corner kick and buried it with a header to break the scoreless tie, sending the two sides into halftime at 1-0 Manitoba.
The goal was made even sweeter by the fact Young celebrated her birthday Saturday.
“It was so great,” Young said.
“It was one of my first real header goals too. I was really waiting for that to happen and I’m glad it did on my birthday, it was a good day.”
With the offensive threat of the Bisons becoming known the Heat switched its approach in the second half.
A tighter, collapsing defensive style was used to limit Manitoba’s ball movement and isolate players like Young and Hailey Lavarias.
UBCO was “very organized,” Martinez Lagunas said.
“It was a very tactical game, […] both coaches made tactical moves and it was a really good game.”
Manitoba struggled to break free but UBCO had just as much trouble getting shots toward Anna Biebrich in the Bisons goal.
Young had a late header go wide but her first half goal was all Manitoba needed to pick up the win and get back to .500 on the season at 3-3.
The Bisons head back out on the road next week for a pair of games in Saskatchewan. Game one is Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. CDT against the University of Regina Cougars, followed by a game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies the next day at 3 p.m. CDT.