Women’s soccer comes home with a 0-1-1 weekend

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Canada West University Athletic Association. Courtesy of Canada West

The team continues to improve, but needs to do it quicker

The University of Regina women’s soccer team was back in action at home Sept. 14-15. They faced Canada West rivals University of Calgary as well as UNBC. Against the Dinos, the Cougars took a tough 0-4 loss. The first half was all Dinos, they dominated possession and kept the ball in the Cougars end, generating countless good scoring chances. Keeper Savannah Williams was solid in goal for the Cougars, keeping them in it at 0-2 through the first half by stopping five shots.

The Cougar women managed to battle back on the second half, generating five shots and a few good scoring chances, including a dangerous rush from rookie Natalie McCollough. Despite this improvement, the Cougars were still sloppy on their finishes. They turned over a lot of balls mid-field, which ultimately cost them another two goals. One of these came on an outstanding shot from Calgary’s Montana Leonard, who scored from 30 meters out by slipping the ball high past Williams. Leonard netted her fourth and fifth goals of the season for Calgary, and they extended their winning record to 3-0.

After the first game, Coach Bob Maltman was disappointed with his team’s effort, but had some positive takeaways.

“We weren’t happy at all with the first half as a team. We didn’t get our foot on the ball for long enough moments to enable us to play the way we intended to play and against a good team like Calgary you’ve got to find some opportunities and take those opportunities.”

Despite the difficulties the team faced against Calgary, Coach Maltman believes in his young team and trusts that they can adapt against teams, even those as strong as the Dinos.

“We really felt that at halftime the players recognized the room for improvement. We felt like we showed some good moments in the second half but lacked that bit of composure to finish. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but there’s a lot of young bodies on that field and I think our leaders guided them pretty well.”

One of these leaders, fifth-year defender Lauren Petras shared a similar sentiment to her coach. She too has mixed feelings about the team’s performance against the Dinos.

“I feel like we had a different game plan than what we came out with in the first half. They came at us harder than we expected, but we regrouped in the second half. We were getting in their half as much as they were getting in our half.”

It’s worth noting that within the first game, the Cougars did have a tremendous rally. After allowing an abysmal 16 shots against in the first half, they held U of C to only seven while generating five in the second.

On Sunday the Cougars came in fresh and carried that momentum, playing a much better game against UNBC. The game was incredibly close in all aspects. After getting outshot 7-23 by the Dinos on Saturday, the Cougars were even against UNBC shooting 12-12. UNBC got on the board first with a goal from Paige Payne, but Regina fired right back. Veteran Sydney Langen netted the goal on the back of a nice feed from rookie Jessica Merk. After that, both sides had some good chances, with the best for Regina coming once again from Natalie McCollough late in the second half. In the end the score was even at 1-1 and both teams recorded their first tie of the season.

For Coach Maltman, this improved performance helps to verify the strong culture and belief in the system that the team has developed this season.

“We’ve been working on a platform and I think if the players come out with the right mentality, they can get the job done.”

After the weekend, the Cougars bring their season to 1-2-1. This is a slight improvement on the 1-3 that they were after four games into 2018. The team is currently fourth in the prairie conference and firmly in the playoff hunt. They head out west for another double-header next weekend, this time against the Victoria Vikes and the UBC Thunderbirds, who sit second and third in the Pacific conference. These west coast teams should prove to be tougher competition for the Cougars.

The team’s next home games take place the weekend of Sept. 28-29, where the Cougars will have their rematch with both Winnipeg and Manitoba.

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