By: Sebastian Barreto
Thursday night at Terry Fox Field saw the SFU women’s soccer team take on Seattle Pacific University. Thursday also marked Senior Day, where SFU celebrated their senior athletes’ final home game. Senior team members Jenna-Lee Baxter, Allyson Dickson, Christina Dickson, Tanis Cuthbert, Katelyn Erhardsen, and captain Samantha Donald will say goodbye after the conclusion of this campaign.
Perhaps the emotion of the pre-game ceremony affected SFU’s concentration, as the team unusually conceded an early goal. The SPU falcons launched a ball over the top of SFU’s defensive line, and Julia Devere latched onto the ball and fired it into the net before Nicole Anderson or her defenders could react.
SPU continued to pile on pressure, pinning SFU in their defensive third for large chunks of the opening 30 minutes. SPU’s pressure paid off just before the 30-minute mark when they doubled their advantage, as Makena Reitz picked up the ball on the left wing and sent a piledriver across the face of the goal. Anderson leapt athletically, but the ball spun beyond her and nestled into the top corner.
“We had been standing for 20 minutes and [there are] always high emotions and it’s hard to regain focus right away,” coach Hamel commented post-game on her team’s slow start. “Obviously, that is something your opponent knows. They come out ready to go and they pounced, and we were in shambles a bit here. Emotions of senior day are very tough, and it took a bit of time, but they got into the rhythm, we knew once we got into our rhythm we could play with them.”
That is exactly what her squad did; Hamel’s team settled and began pushing play up the pitch. Now on the front foot, SFU were applying pressure and creating the chances. A loose clearance came to freshman Kayla Goncalves at the top of the penalty box in the 38th minute. Instead of trying her luck from distance, Goncalves picked out a perfect pass to fellow freshman Katie MacEwan, who used the pace on the ball to guide her shot past the keeper. MacEwan’s first tally of the season was the catalyst for SFU to snatch a second.
Goncalves added a second assist from left back in the final seconds of the first half as she swung a cross into the box. Claire Barielles caused chaos as she challenged the keeper and rose for the ball. Barielles tipped the ball past the keeper and into the path of Jenna-Lee Baxter who nudged the ball beyond the line with three seconds to spare. The crowd rose into hectic cheers as SFU pulled level just seconds before the half.
Coach Hamel discussed her team’s resilient performance, stating, “I’m really proud of the effort. This is their fourth game in eight days, for our fourth game in eight days they did an exceptional job and to go 2-0 down like they did and have to grind was amazing.”
Back on level terms, SFU began the second half with wind in their sails as they dominated possession and field position. However, they were unable to find the important go-ahead goal. Shifting gears down the field, SFU were unlucky enough not to score, even with numerous shots on target and a scramble on SPU’s goal line.
SFU defenders Emma Lobo and Allyson Dickson put hard defensive shifts in throughout the evening. Both shone in the second half with expertly timed sliding challenges and important interventions stifling SPU’s attacks.
After 90 minutes, the score line remained 2–2 as the squads prepared for overtime. Unfortunately for SFU, a well-taken strike by SPU striker Kasey Reeve flew in beyond Nicole Anderson only two minutes into the extra frame.
“This is a heartbreaker, but there are a lot of positives here tonight. I thought they didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the second half; we came out well. One break and that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Hamel.
“There is still a lot of soccer left to play, and if the girls play like this, they see that they can stay with everybody and their confidence grows.”
The Clan are now 9–4–1 overall and 7–2–1 in conference play.
Coach Hamel’s squad will travel to Idaho and then Montana to dust off their conference games before heading to Concordia University to take part in the GNAC Championships.
Peak Player of the Game: Allyson Dickson
Dickson had an impressive evening. Energetically driving down the left flank and defending well, Dickson stood out from her teammates. One sublime sliding challenge in front of the home support capped off her evening.