To say that this was the biggest game of the season for the Clan would not be an overstatement. Coming into the match, SFU was fifth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) with 12 points; Concordia was in fourth with 15, with the top four teams qualifying for the GNAC Championship. Needless to say, a win for SFU was an absolute must.
“I thought it was really good for the team to come out under pressure with so much at stake,” said head coach Annie Hamel after the game. “The emotions were really high, so the focus today was trying to contain all of that and find a way to perform when you want to do it so badly for the seniors. We’re fighting for a playoff spot against this team, so there was a lot on the line.”
“I’m so proud of my team right now,” said Katelyn Erhardsen, a sophomore from Maple Ridge. “[It] was a very special game for us today. We wanted to win for our seniors so bad and give them a chance. We have the mindset right now that is not their last home game, and we want to make the GNAC.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with Concordia having the better chance. However, it was in the second half that SFU showed the determination that should be expected of a team battling for a playoff position. In the 85th minute, the goal finally came.
“I got the ball out wide and did a give and go with my roommate, Christina Dickson,” said Erhardsen, who assisted on the winning goal. “And then I saw an open gap and played Emma Pringle behind, so a one-touch finish.”
And who else to score SFU’s biggest goal of the season than SFU’s biggest performer of the season, Emma Pringle. Her eighth goal of the year not only leads the team, but leads the GNAC as well.
And she’s only a freshman.
“It’s been difficult for her in the last two games, she had not gotten on the scoresheet and I know she puts a lot of pressure on herself,” said Hamel. “But the team realizes it’s increasingly difficult for her to find the back of the net and find openings, because they are doubling up on her all of the time. Everybody knows about her, it’s not like you have a secret weapon. But she continues to find ways and she continues to work hard.
“I say it all the time, the future looks so bright for her and for the program.”
The win puts SFU in a tie for fourth place with Concordia with 15 points, and the Clan is in the driver’s seat. SFU now holds the tiebreaker in a head-to-head record, and because this is the only time they play this season, it will stay that way. They aIso have an easier record, as they have three games left, all against teams lower than them in the standings.
Concordia has only two games left, and plays two teams currently higher than them. If the GNAC Championship started today, they would be in, and playing at home at Terry Fox Field.
Essentially, if they win all of their remaining games, they’re in.
However, they play the games for a reason. And if SFU plans to be in the championship picture, they are going to have to find the one thing that has eluded them so far: consistency. Although SFU has not lost more than twice in a row all year, they haven’t had a winning streak more than two games either.
“We just got to win out now and solidify that place in the playoff,” said Hamel. “That’s what the kids are thinking about every single day.”