WINNIPEG — A lone goal, scored late off a corner kick was the difference as the University of Manitoba Bisons women’s soccer team lost their home opener to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 1-0 in a hard fought game on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Leesa Eggum’s goal for the Huskies in the 81st minute would stand despite a frantic attempt by the Bisons to tie the game late. Manitoba’s record falls to 1-2-0 on the season, as Saskatchewan meanwhile picked up their first win of the season, improving to 1-2-0.
“It was a hard game for us,” said Bisons head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas. “I think we were holding in there and we did a good a good job of defending the corner kicks until that one on the 81st minute.”
The Huskies dominated the pace of play for most of the match, peppering the Manitoba goal with 20 shots and forcing Bison goalkeeper Maddie Wilford to make 9 saves on the day. For her effort, Wilford was selected as player of the match for the home side.
“Maddie had a fantastic performance, she was our MVP of the game,” said Martinas Lagunas.
“She did everything in her power to keep us in the game, and it was one little play but that’s how soccer is.”
The Bisons started the game playing aggressive but were unable to sustain a consistent attack. The Huskies did a great job defensively and kept the ball out of the box.
It was a back and forth affair in the first half as both teams tried to stretch the field with long through balls into space, but both Wilford and Saskatchewan goalkeeper Jadyn Steinhauer did well to keep clean sheets through the first 45 minutes. The Huskies were able to set the tone, thanks in large part to their defensive dominance which shut down any attack mounted by the Manitoba strikers. Selena Speranza and Sara Schur created the best chances for Manitoba and consistently lead the offence down the field on the attack, but were unable to crack the Huskies defence.
“Every time one of us had the ball we always had a (Huskie) player pressuring us,” said Speranza. “So we would be double-teamed, but our team wouldn’t open up for each other. So it would feel like one-on-two or three. That was an issue.”
Besides the shot differential, the other glaring stat came in corner kicks, with Saskatchewan enjoying 16 attempts from the corner to Manitoba’s one. Given that the game winning goal was set up off of a corner attempt, it’s an area of the game that Manitoba will need to work on as they prepare for their next match.
“Defintely full credit to Saskatchewan because they were all over us during the whole game and again we just needed to keep it clean in the back and we couldn’t. But I also need to say the girls didn’t give up and they fought hard until the last minute. That’s positive, now we just need to keep our head up and prepare for our next game.”
The Bisons round out their home opening weekend with a match tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 18 against the University of Regina Cougars.