WINNIPEG - The Canada West regular season is in the books for University of Manitoba Bisons women's soccer, ending with a tough 2-1 loss in extra time against the division-leading Saskatchewan Huskies on October 25 at the U of M Turf Fields. The team will now focus on preparing for their playoff match up against the Grant MacEwan Griffins.
After a hard-fought 90 minutes of play, with the sides exchanging great chances at both ends of the pitch, the Huskies ultimately capitalized on a Bison defensive error in extra time, as Erica Hindmarsh scored her second goal of the match to put the visitors ahead with virtually no time remaining for the Bisons to respond.
"I'm really proud of the team because every single one of them were fighting," said Bisons head coach Vanessa Martinas-Legunas after the game.
"I told them, they have to have their head up and they need to be proud of the fight they gave. It was a little error, and they punished us. They are a really good team, but I think we need to be proud what we achieved in the regular season, and you know what? We're in the playoffs. In the playoffs, anything can happen."
With the win, the Huskies improve their division-best record to 10-3-1, while the Bisons, needing a win to clinch a home playoff game, fall to 7-5-2.
Despite the Huskies dominating the time of possession for the opening 10 minutes of play, it was Selina Speranza who opened the scoring for the Bisons, collecting a Megan Gracacorner kick in the box and to putting it past Huskies goalkeeper to put the home side up 1-0 at the 13' mark.
But just seven minutes later, the Huskies responded. Forward Erica Hindmarsh scoring her first of the game, beating Madison Wilford along the ground to tie things up.
Both teams earned great opportunities to break the tie before the end of the first half, including a fantastic run by Speranza who hit the side of the net with a great shot at 25'. And Huskies midfielder Kailee Weber came close to breaking the tie in added time before the half, but Wilford was there for one of several clutch saves on the day.
After such an exciting first half, things seemed to cool off a bit to start the second half, but soon ratcheted right back up. The Bisons' best chance in the second half came on another corner, as Elyce Molyneaux played the ball perfectly right the group of brown jerseys in the Huskies box, but the Bisons could not get a clean shot off before the Huskies cleared the threat.
After subbing out of the game, Erica Hindmarsh checked back in in the 84'. The strategy paid off, as the Huskies best scoring threat on the day made put away the game winner minutes later in extra time to break the tie and clinch the victory for the visitors.
The game was also the final regular season matchfor four fifth-year Bisons — midfielders Alyssa Robinson and Megan Graca, defender Elyce Molyneaux and goalkeeper Chloe Werle— who were recognized for their contributions before the game. The team now prepares for a tough first-round playoff match up against an evenly-matched opponent in the Grant MacEwen Griffins.
"Grant MacEwen is also a very difficult team. They are hard to play in their home field, but we've played them in the regular season and tied them. We know the team, and I think we can beat them," said coach Martinas-Lagunas.
"We just need to be very smart in our preparation. First we need to recover everybody for the week and prepare to travel. But we're going to do our best and play smart to get as far as we can."
The Bisons travel to Calgary to play the Griffins Saturday, Oct. 31.