By: Justin Parker
After a solid 2015 campaign that saw the women’s soccer team finish fourth in the Ontario University Athletics West division (7-6-3), the team struggled to get things off the ground at the beginning of the 2016 season. In their first seven games, McMaster went without a win (0-5-2) and the squad was outscored 10-4.
However, the team has kept their heads down and worked through an early rough patch that saw them face the top teams of the OUA West. The team bounced back since then, winning six of their last seven games, putting them in fifth place in the OUA West for this season (6-6-2, 20 points).
Although the road to the playoffs is not an easy one, they look to carry their momentum into the final two regular season games.
The team kicked off October with two strong wins against Windsor (1-0) and Waterloo (3-0), and then traveled to Algoma last weekend to dominate 6-0 and 7-0 in back-to-back games. They are now looking to continue their form throughout the rest of the season and heading into the playoffs.
This sudden resurgence coincides with the return of many key players. One of the those to return recently was goalkeeper Deanna Persico, who currently ranks fourth in the OUA in Goals Against (four). Persico also ranks fifth in shutouts (four), which all came in her first five games since her return from injury.
“The team started the season with a massive amount of injuries,” head coach Brett Mosen said. “[At one point] We had 15 healthy players out of 33”.
Persico’s presence was missed in the middle of the season, where the team lost five straight games in her absence, and roster adjustments were constantly made by the coaching staff.
Coach Mosen stressed the perseverance of the team, and how the were able to play well despite these injuries.
“I think the girls did tremendously well at the beginning of the season. With no healthy defenders, we converted midfield players to defenders and they did fantastic. Although we didn’t get the results we wanted, I think they did very well.”
Now McMaster looks to ride this momentum into the playoffs. They may not get home field advantage but can still make a lengthy run into the playoffs if they keep this pace of play up.
In their games against Algoma, McMaster cruised, allowing the team to sit several starting players. Given the injuries early in the season, the strength of the bench maintained the level of play. Depth is an asset come OUA playoff time.
With their star goalkeeper back, the Marauders are positioned to gain more momentum as they finish off the regular season and head into the playoffs
“We’ve just got to keep the winning mentality going and stay confident,” Mosen said. “We are a confident team and players are healthy. The girls have worked hard all season, have committed to getting to the playoffs when it looked unlikely at one stage, but our belief never stopped. We always believed we could get there. It was just getting everyone together and healthy.”
The women’s soccer team looks poised for an excellent run into the playoffs. A win over league-rivals Laurier would clinch the fifth seed for Mac. Now that the team is healthy, nothing is in their way.