By: Sebastien Barreto
Saturday afternoon saw SFU’s women’s soccer team come up against a tough and well-organized Concordia Cavalier’s squad. Terry Fox Field was a cauldron of fierce rain and whipping wind as the game kicked off. The Clan were unable to gain a foothold through most of the first 45 minutes, with the majority of the game being played in their end of the park.
The first half was dominated by Concordia as their pressing play overwhelmed SFU. SFU’s women doggedly chased the game and were relentlessly defending the waves of Cavalier attacks. Notably, SFU midfielder Kaely Biring made two outstanding defensive efforts to stifle Concordia attackers in the first 45 minutes. A sliding challenge followed by a timely block helped keep the Cavaliers off the scoresheet.
The Clan struggled as they were outmuscled on the field as many battles resulted in possession with the white shirts of Concordia. “All over the pitch, physicality was not our strength,” said SFU women’s soccer head coach Annie Hamel.
“It is something we do well adjusting to, when we are playing in and around players, but they are a smart team and well-organized,” said Hamel. “Teams try to exploit your weaknesses. Size is a thing, it’s who we are, we have speed.”
SFU was unable to display the speedy attacking approach coach Hamel referred to, as they could not muster substantial offence on Saturday afternoon. At times, swift Clan winger Christina Dickson was able to push forward and fly down the right-hand flank. Frustratingly, this was to no great avail as SFU rarely produced goal scoring opportunities in the first half.
With the weather conditions still adverse, the second half began. SFU were unlucky to concede a rather awkward goal with two minutes elapsed. A midfield skirmish lead to the ball breaking free near the top of SFU’s box. Brenda Uribe of Concordia University was the first to react to the loose ball. She lined up a strike as two SFU players raced towards her in a desperate attempt to block her shot. Uribe blasted the ball as the two blue shirts of SFU arrived. The shot deflected spectacularly and looped above the back line and then dropped just before the crossbar. Goalkeeper Priya Sandhu was quick to react to the danger, but her outstretched arm pushed the ball back into play after barely crossing the line. Uribe was credited with the goal.
Emma Pringle, SFU’s star striker, was silenced by a gritty and staunch Concordia backline. The Cavaliers were certainly aware of the threat the explosive striker imposes. Concordia did well to limit Pringle’s capabilities as they often double or triple teamed the SFU number 10.
“They do their job, they get the scouting reports and watch film and they take away your strength,” said Hamel as she commented on SFU’s inability to create offensive opportunities. Concordia had 13 attempts while SFU had six. “We have to find ways in and around that and players have to step up. Some games we do that and today we didn’t.”
Pringle currently leads the conference in points with 12 goals and one assist to her name. With her immense offensive talent, watch for those numbers to rise with Pringle averaging a goal a game this campaign.
With the rain still coming down in sheets, SFU skipper Samantha Donald latched onto a loose ball above the Cavalier’s box. The combative midfielder smashed an attempt over the goal late on in the game. Her rising shot was hit with enough conviction, but the captain could not keep the effort down. This was symbolic of SFU’s afternoon, as things just didn’t quite work out for them despite their committed and loyal effort to the cause.
Midfielder Jenna-lee Baxter tested the Concordia goalkeeper in the final 90 seconds of the match with a strike from a free kick situation. Donald quickly nudged the ball to her left as Baxter’s right boot connected well and let fly. The effort showed ingenuity from SFU’s offence which had been shut down for much of the match. However, the strike was saved in the decisive moments of the game. Persistent hard work and great spirit shown by the SFU women was not enough to overcome the Concordia Cavaliers as they eventually lost 1–0.
The Cavaliers extended their win streak to nine games in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play this season after their narrow victory on Terry Fox Field this Saturday.
Next up for SFU’s women is a clash with Saint Martin’s University on October 26 at Terry Fox Field. The Clan will look to bounce back and get back to winning ways on Thursday evening.