By: Sebastian Barreto
The SFU women’s soccer team recorded a resounding 3–0 victory Saturday afternoon against Montana State University at Terry Fox Field.
The first half of Saturday’s matinee game featured an abundance of chances for the Clan. MSU were under the cosh from the off as SFU fiercely drove through their defensive lines while finding vast space in the offensive third of the pitch. SFU created many genuine opportunities; however, they frustratingly failed to find the back of the net until a moment of pure madness.
With 10 seconds left in the first half, the crowd began counting down to half-time. SFU captain Samantha Donald picked up possession 30 yards from goal. The skipper put her laces through the ball and sent a looping strike towards MSU’s goal. Judging the bounce wonderfully, striker Emma Pringle rose and challenged MSU’s keeper Erinn Harder. The ball bounced over both players, clipped the bottom of the crossbar and fell into the net.
These scenes, playing out as the game clock displayed just three seconds remaining, sent the crowd into a hysterical state. Teammates surrounded captain Donald, hailing her ambitious effort. The senior had occupied a defensive midfield role throughout the game, breaking up play and shielding SFU’s defenders.
“Sam Donald is one of the best players in the conference. Tactically, there is nobody better than number 8,” coach Annie Hamel said of her captain’s importance to the squad after the game. “If you don’t know soccer, she will fly under the radar. If you understand soccer, you will see everything that she does on and off the ball.” Donald’s spectacular goal was her first of the season.
The second half saw SFU’s freshmen shine as Hamel rotated her entire squad for the second consecutive game.
“It’s an immense relief to be able to use your freshmen,” commented Hamel. “To give breaks and manage a season when you trust them. Not only the coaching staff trusts them, but the players on the field trust them. We’re getting to that place where we can use anybody and everybody.”
Danae Robillard produced an impressive display in the second half. Her best chance came when she hit the crossbar on a powerful strike. Robillard also picked her passes well and wasn’t fazed when defending.
If Robillard was great, then Teagan Mackay was superb. Mackay was deployed on the wings and she ripped through MSU’s defenders. Speed, strength, pressing the defensive line, and an eye for the goal: all of this made Mackay invaluable in the second half, accompanied by Emma Pringle, Katelyn Erhardsen and Jenna-Lee Baxter for a deadly SFU attack.
Mackay was crucial to the second goal, winning the ball up the pitch and firing a strike on goal that the goalkeeper parried away. The rebound fell directly to fellow striker Carmen Brown who tapped in her first goal, and Mackay’s fifth assist, of the season.
“What Teagan did today was extraordinary,” Hamel said, touching on Mackay’s campaign. “It has been a long time coming.”
SFU’s defence held firm for the duration of the match as Carli Grosso, Emma Lobo, and the rest of the squad steadied the ship. Many SFU moves started from the passing ability of SFU’s defenders. Goalkeeper Nicole Anderson was confident throughout, earning SFU’s second clean sheet in a week.
SFU added a third goal late on in fabulous fashion. Clair Bareilles sent Baxter through on goal with a perfect through ball. With defenders surrounding her, Baxter took the ball on the fly and shifted the ball onto her right foot before unleashing an absolute thunderbolt upon goal. It struck the bottom of the crossbar and flew in, shaking the frame of the MSU goal. That beautiful goal was Baxter’s eighth tally of the season.
After six games unbeaten, Coach Hamel is looking forward to what is to come, but she wants to keep the team grounded.
“We keep stepping on the gas pedal,” she concluded. “If we want to achieve what I think this team can do, it’s about being a professional, being focused, and taking care of business. Don’t let the blood get too hot or too cold. It’s all about keeping them level-headed.”
SFU’s next match is at Terry Fox Field against Saint Martin’s University. You can catch the game on Tuesday, October 16 at 5 p.m.
Peak Player of the Game: Teagan Mackay
Mackay was energetic all day, and her direct attacking play was integral to SFU recording another victorious result. She’s expected to continue building on these performances; keep an eye on her.