Forward Maya Gabruch’s tally 79 minutes into the second half gave the Saskatchewan Huskies a 2-1 victory over the Manitoba Bisons in both team’s season opener on Friday night at the West Turf Field (U of M campus).
The key storyline in this one was capitalizing on opportunities. Manitoba — the aggressors for a strong chunk of the game — had a few different opportunities with time and space but couldn’t finish, while the Huskies were able to finish when given the chance, including the game-winner from Gabruch.
The visitors generated the game’s first quality chance in the opening minute, when rookie midfielder Jade Houmphanh booted a ball from just outside the box, however her shot sailed just over the net.
Manitoba responded with up-tempo play from their back line, leading to a few key turnovers as the first half progressed. First-year Stefanie Young was particularly impactful, earning her squad a few free kicks, including an opportunity 11 minutes in that was blocked.
Saskatchewan was able to control possession on a few different occasions in the first half, including a great chance for midfielder Payton Iszak — who had a few different looks — on a through ball 17 minutes in, but she was unable to cash in.
The Bisons dictated the pace in the closing 15 minutes of the first half, with the speedy combination of Hailey Lavarias and Nicole Davis forcing the Huskies defence to stay on their toes. Lavarias would eventually cash in 35 minutes into the first half, getting the last touch on a Manitoba free kick that bounced around the box to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Huskies didn’t take long to equalize in the second half, as forward Halle Krynowsky got everything on a loose ball to tie the contest 47 minutes into play. The goal marks Krynowsky’s first goal in her very first game of Canada West action.
Manitoba pressed right after the equalizer, with Lavarias, Davis and Young continuing to provide their team with chances due to their speed. Their best chance to take the lead took place 58 minutes into play, as Lavarias got behind the back line but got taken down with a solid tackle by Kieran McKercher.
The Huskies would earn the game-winner with 13 minutes left play, as forward Hannah Gannitsos-Clark delivered a great ball across the box to Gabruch, who made no mistake.
Both teams will be back in action tonight, with Manitoba hosting Regina while Saskatchewan will take on Winnipeg.