An honest coach’s assessment of the Huskies women’s soccer matchups against the University of Alberta Pandas on Sept. 11 and 12?
“We stunk the joint up, basically.”
Huskies head coach Tom LaPointe was frank about his team’s performance on Saturday, which saw the University of Alberta Fighting Pandas crush the womens’ Huskies 5-0 in their season opener.
The Pandas led the Canada West Conference in goals last season and showed no signs of slowing down as they tested starting Huskies goalkeeper Marissa Wilford early and often. The game was barely a minute old when she saw the first shot of the game sail over her head and luckily over the crossbar.
Just four minutes into the game, Panda forward Keshia Wallin sent a perfectly placed free kick from 30 yards out into the top left corner, just out of Wilford’s reach. And while it’s hard to find blame in failing to defend a beautiful free kick, the rest of the night made it hard to find a bright spot in Saturday’s performance.
The Pandas walked all over the Huskies defence effortlessly, scoring three times in the next 20 minutes, with each goal coming from less than 10 yards out. Whenever the Pandas crossed the ball in to the attacking area, either through defensive lapses or lack of fitness, the forwards would find themselves free to operate close to the Huskies’ goal.
For Lapointe it was simple: “They capitalized on our mistakes, and we were a step behind.”
The Huskies simply didn’t have an answer for the Pandas’ attack, with the majority of the game being played in the Green and White’s defensive zone. Panda goalie Kelti Biggs didn’t even touch the ball until the 10th minute.
Were the Huskies ever actually in the game?
“In the second half, there were ten minutes where we looked like a soccer team,” says LaPointe.
The only pressure that the Huskies managed to mount was when they tried to sail balls over the heads of the defencemen but each dump-and-chase attempt ended either with an offside call or with the ball weakly rolling to the feet of the waiting Biggs.
Defensively, the Huskies improved in the second half but still saw the Pandas’ fifth and final goal come again off a Wallin free kick that again sailed over Wilford’s arms and into the net. Offensively, however, they were much of the same and finished the game with only two shots, both of which sailed wide of the goal.
The most curious play came late in the game, when Huskies midfielder Jamie LeMay was yellow carded for coming too close to the Panda goalie, without making any actual contact.
The Huskies played the Pandas again on Sunday, unfortunately with a similar result. However, the Huskies defense did fare better in their Sunday game, keeping the score close and only falling 1-0 to the Pandas.
The Huskies will try to break their scoreless next weekend at home with games against the Calgary Dinos and Lethbridge Pronghorns.
image: Pete Yee