By: Sebastian Barreto
SFU women’s soccer team ground out a hard-fought win against the Central Washington University Wildcats at Terry Fox Field Saturday afternoon. SFU’s Jenna-lee Baxter broke parity and secured the victory with a brilliant finish four minutes into the second half. Saturday’s victory earned SFU’s women their first consecutive wins of the season after defeating Seattle Pacific University two days prior.
The first half was incredibly tight; both squads defended resolutely, with a raging midfield battle fiercely ensuing as neither team wavered. SFU goalkeeper Nicole Anderson impressively stopped a long-range effort from outside the box, diving to her right to parry the ball away from her net.
The match featured SFU freshman Teagan Mackay wrecking havoc against Central Washington’s defenders. Her relentless pressing and effective hold up play proved effective in the 28th minute as Mackay won the ball high up the pitch and tested the Wildcat keeper.
Immediately after the break, Mackay made her presence felt again. Wonderful close control and a burst of speed saw Mackay drive down the right wing and send a low cross into the box. Senior SFU midfielder Baxter met the cross, expertly controlling it, and with a swivel and strike, she banged the ball beyond CWU’s goalkeeper. Securing her fourth goal of the season, Baxter’s strike proved to be the game winning goal.
Mackay’s creative influence was essential to the goal, and head coach Annie Hamel touched on it post-game.
“Teagan McKay is getting better every single game,” said Hamel. “She is coming in as a freshman; it is tough. But seeing her grow and get better every game is amazing.
“She had an amazing performance, she is so strong and is starting to be less shy, making her presence felt out there, and it’s lovely to see.”
Immediately after going up 1–0, SFU came under immense pressure. An error at the back forced a goal line clearance from midfielder Hollis Roeske. Wildcat attackers swamped SFU’s penalty box as the ball trickled behind Anderson and towards the goal mouth. Roeske arrived in dramatic fashion to hoof the ball away from the unguarded net. This was the start of a good spell for the Wildcats as they went in search of an equalizer. Despite this near-goal, Anderson was composed for the rest of the match and kept a clean sheet.
As the Wildcats attempted to claw their way back into the match, SFU’s veterans stepped up to steer the team over the line. Katelyn Erhardsen had a motivated second-half display, oozing confidence on the ball while beating opposition players continuously with sumptuous skill. Her influence in the middle of the park was crucial as SFU maintained a strong shape while defending their lead.
Coach Hamel spoke of her midfield general’s performance after the match. “I directly addressed the seniors at halftime in the dressing room and they responded. Katelyn came out with a mentality of ‘I will help us and be the solution,’ and it was awesome to see. She was immense for us; her control of the midfield was significant. She has amazing feet and when she gets by somebody it’s typically fun to watch.”
SFU defender Carli Grosso was another standout performer on the day, Grosso offered a tower-like presence at the helm of the defence: rarely putting a foot wrong, tackling hard, and clearing everything that came her way. Grosso was calm and self-assured throughout the match.
Grosso, Erhardsen and Mackay were pivotal pieces to SFU’s success. When asked about positive takeaways from Saturday’s victory, Coach Hamel expressed delight at her team’s improvement and ability to grind out wins. “We didn’t play very well, and we were still able to get all three points. In the conference it is a massive result and we have had a tough stretch. I’m pleased with where we’re at right now, the girls have been getting better every week, it has been enjoyable to watch.”
Peak player of the game: Carli Grosso
Grosso was a key player for the Clan in this one, consistently preventing Central Washington University from getting scoring chances. She was definitely the best defender in the game, and was a major reason for SFU’s clean sheet.
SFU will be looking to ride their recent form into games against Concordia and Western Oregon on the road before returning to Terry Fox Field on October 11 for a clash against Northwest Nazarene University at 5 p.m.