It was a tough weekend for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s soccer team. After two back-to-back losses at Potash Corp Field to the Trinity Western University Spartans and the University of Fraser Valley Cascades, the Huskies were left winless and goal-less in the early regular season. Despite the setback, the team remains optimistic and are focusing on refining their game for the next 12 matches to come.
The Huskies opened the weekend against the Spartans on Sept. 10. Unable to generate much offence, the Spartans dominated the play in the first and second halves of the game.
The Spartans’ Rachel Hutchinson scored 15 minutes into the game, sending a ball from Siena Kashima into an open Huskie net. Spartans’ Kathleen Chin furthered the lead to 2-0 at the 45-minute mark, lobbing a long shot from outside the 20-yard box to the top of the Huskies’ net, narrowly avoiding the grasp of Huskies goaltender Kyleigh Vause.
Spartans’ Danae Derksen tallied two more goals in the second half to lead the Spartans to a 4-0 victory. Capitalizing on a steal in front of the Huskies’ net, Derksen beat Vause in the bottom corner for her first goal in the 65th minute of play. Her second goal came at the 84-minute mark, finding the top corner to capture the win.
On Sept. 11, the Huskies hit the pitch again to take on the Cascades. In a repeat of the match the day before, the Huskies gave up four goals in total, three of which were scored in the first half.
Cascades’ Tristan Corneil got the first goal eight minutes into the match on a header from a corner kick. Four minutes later, Shayla Phipps gave the Cascades a 2-0 lead by tapping a through ball from teammate Brittney Zacharuk into an empty net.
The Cascades capitalized again on a scramble in front of the Huskie net after a throw late in the first half, with Gurpreet Dhaliwal notching the score up to 3-0 before heading into the second.
The Cascades’ Amanda Carruthers found the Huskies’ mesh late in the second half, bringing the score to a final of 4-0.
Despite two shut out defeats, Huskies head coach Jerson Barandica-Hamilton is not shaken. Although he added that the Huskies need to refine their game and gain more control on the field, he is certain that in time the rookie team will gain confidence and hone their gameplay.
“We played some really strong teams. We’re a young team and it’s just a learning curve for us to be able to compete every day to our standards and look to do what we want in the game and not let [the other team] influence the game and how it gets played in terms of their strengths but rather our strengths,” Barandica-Hamilton said.
“We like to keep the ball and stay compact as a unit to try and attack together and defend together. Sometimes this weekend we were very disjointed and teams were able to expose us and transition quite a bit. At times, we were very hesitant and good teams will punish you on little mistakes. We had opportunities but we were one or two steps too slow to react and that was the difference.”
Fifth-year defender and business student Meagan Manson is remaining optimistic despite the losses, adding that the defeats brought out the character of her teammates and provided a unique opportunity for the Huskies to grow and improve.
“Those are two tough teams to play on your opening weekend and they already each had a game under their belts; they both played each other before, but I think that there are lots of areas that we can get better and improve on these next 12 games to come,” said Manson.
“I learned that my team does not quit. The last 45 minutes we were down 3-0 and no one stopped. We all worked hard and we were all working for each other. You could see that on the field and it was fun to play that last 45 minutes. You could see that even though we were defeated, we had opportunities to quit and we just kept pushing.”
Brenden Palmer / Sports & Health Editor
Photos: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor