Cougar Corner: Women’s soccer shows promising start
MRU Cougars women’s team start season off with 2-1-1 record
By Dan Khavkin, Sports Editor
Mount Royal Cougars Women’s Soccer season started off on a positive note after picking up seven out of a possible twelve points in the opening stretch of the 2017/2018 season.
The Cougars played host to visiting University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on September 9, defeating the cross province rival with a score line of 2-1. The next morning, round one of the Crowchild Classic saw a 0-0 draw to cross-town rivals University of Calgary Dinos.
MRU picked up a 2-0 win against the UNBC Timberwolves squad on Sept. 15, picking up their first three points away from home on the season.
MacEwen snapped the early three game unbeaten streak on Sept. 17th handing MRU their first loss of the season with a score of 1-0. Game one showed a steady play of pace from both sides until Lethbridge put the first point on the board in the 22nd minute.
Conceding the first goal didn’t stop the Cougars from clawing back into the game and catching fire in the latter portion of the half. With the pressure mounting on the visiting side, the Cougars tied the game at 1-1 in the 35th minute thanks to rookie Julien Ramirez.
Janai Martens lobbed a ball over the flat-footed Pronghorn defense where Ramirez found herself open on the edge box, she chested the ball down with class and slotted the ball into the top netting with precision and got the Cougar hopeful onto their feet. The momentum swing was apparent.
With the Cougars still controlling the tempo, chances kept coming with the Pronghorn defense eventually cracking, as a handball called inside of the box led to Quinn Hardstaff putting away the penalty to put the Cougars in the driver’s seat.
Lethbridge pressed with intensity towards the end but ultimately couldn’t capitalize on the collapsing Cougar defense that picked up the win.
The next morning, two Calgarian sides clashed for the first time in an entertaining game of 0-0, as ironic as that sounds. Both teams put on a show for the home supporters and to those who took a trip to Cougar Stadium Field as the game was filled with tremendous goalkeeping and teamplay.
Both sides hit each other on counter-attacks throughout the duration of the game but neither side could solve the other.
Cougar goalkeeper Cailyn Leeson stole the show with a perfect day, blocking away a staggering nine shots on net to pick up her first clean sheet of the season. Leeson outdueled the Dinos all game long but particularly fourth-year forward Maddison Frizte, who she denied four times alone in the match. Both teams caught breaks throughout the second half with the Dinos hitting the crossbar while mounting the pressure on the absorbent Cougar defense.
MRU had their own share of Dino scares when the defense would use a dump-and-chase method to spring the patient forwards that created chances from open play with long shots and one-two’s but also couldn’t manage to find the back of the net.
Player of the game, Hardstaff had the moment of the match when she single handedly stole two points from the surging Dinos when she made a goal line clearance with her face late in the second half to keep the game scoreless.
On their first game away from home in Prince George, BC, the Cougars had a stellar second half where heavy presses in the offensive end became a strategic turning point as both Talisa Tefledzuk and Emily Sands got their first goals on the season.
The next match against MacEwen saw the home team put themselves on the scoreboard in the 9th minute and they never looked back, as they held onto the slim margin to hand the Cougars their first loss of the season.
Next for the Cougars is a road trip to Winnipeg to face the Wesmen and their rivals in the Manitoba Bisons on September 23rd and 24th.