By: Sebastian Barreto
The SFU women’s soccer team put on a masterful display Thursday night at Terry Fox Field. As the final whistle blew, they came off the pitch as 5–0 winners in a blockbuster game against Northwest Nazarene University. Coach Annie Hamel has her squad rolling as they improve to 5–1–1 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
The excitement levels were high from the start. SFU came close to going ahead, but couldn’t produce a decisive goal in the opening moments until Katelyn Erhardsen stepped up. As we have come to expect from her, Erhardsen produced a top-class move resulting in first blood. The 16th minute saw Erhardsen seize the ball in midfield and embark on a winding run through opposition defenders. NNU were quick to react to Erhardsen storming down the pitch but the midfielder’s graceful feet and tactile balance ensured possession was solely hers. Erhardsen picked a dangerous pass to striker Emma Pringle at the top of the box, who was clinical as ever: one touch to control the ball, and one to knock it in low, hard, and beyond the keeper.
Danae Robillard also contributed with her first goal of the season. Robillard scrambled SFU’s second goal over the line in the 32nd minute, after Jenna-lee Baxter showed great vision from the right wing, swinging a cross into the six-yard box which Robillard met: a memorable moment for the freshmen. Just moments later, Baxter was provider again, delivering a corner kick from the right wing which Emma Pringle headed home. This was Pringle’s eighth goal of the season and her second on the day.
Coach Hamel discussed her team’s thorough dispatching of NNU in a postgame interview, praising her senior players.
“It is not just the skill set. It is the leadership,” said Hamel. “Carli Grosso at centre back — the way that she commands the back line. Jenna-lee Baxter and Emma Pringle’s ability. Jenna can serve it anywhere and Emma will bag it. The twins, Christina and Alyson Dickson — same thing. They are fast and dynamic, and they cover so much of the field. I don’t teach that; they have that.”
With SFU holding a commanding 3–0 lead at half-time, Coach Hamel rotated her bench ensuring every player in the match day squad saw action in the trumping of Northwest Nazarene. It was valuable experience for fresh faces, combined with a sensational showing by SFU’s seniors.
Coach Hamel expressed her satisfaction with the team maintaining intensity levels while making substitutions.
“Trust and confidence were the two words we went into this game with and I thought they really stuck to the game plan. I thought we really exposed them,” said Hamel. “One of the awesome things about today was being able to get every single player on our roster into that game and have the level stay where it was and still dominate.”
The second half featured more of the same as SFU’s defensive game held firm. The rearguard held NNU to just three attempts on goal, none of which were any bother for Nicole Anderson who recorded a clean sheet.
After strong first halves, Erhardsen and Baxter’s influence on the game still grew noticeably. Baxter struck twice in the second half capping off the day with two goals and two assists. Her second was spectacular as Erhardsen found Baxter on the break. Eight minutes before the game ended, Baxter found herself alone against a single defender. She shifted the ball onto her right foot and released a powerful curling effort into the top left corner putting an exclamation mark on the 5–0 win.
After five consecutive games without defeat and tied for second in the GNAC standings, Coach Hamel spoke on her team moving forward. “We have had some misfortunes in the past, but this year, everything seems to be clicking and every game is clicking a little more. Now it’s about realizing how good they [the team] are.”
The SFU women play Montana State University on Saturday afternoon where they will be looking to extend their unbeaten run. You can catch the game at 1 p.m. at Terry Fox Field.
Peak Player of the Game: Jenna-Lee Baxter
Baxter scored twice and had a helping hand in two others. A four-point night for the senior and an all-round impressive performance sees her take the Peak Player of the Game nomination.