Graphic By: Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator
As varsity sports returns to McMaster, the women’s soccer team is ready to take on new challenges in the upcoming season.
After a disappointing season in 2019, in which the McMaster Marauders lost in the Ontario University Athletics quarterfinals against the Western Mustangs in London, the players are eager to make a comeback, as an exciting season with 10 league games is approaching.
The Marauders have been placed in the central division, which will host opponent schools such as Algoma University, Laurentian University, University of Toronto, Nipissing University and Ryerson University.
The first two games of the season come against the Algoma Thunderbirds, who will have a two night stay in Hamilton for the start of the OUA season. The opening games will take place Sept. 25-26 at Ron Joyce Stadium.
The Marauders will likely slide into their games with confidence for the opening games, having a clear winning record against the Thunderbirds in previous years. McMaster has won every single game against Algoma, keeping a 12-0 conference record ahead of the opening games. The most notable win against the Thunderbirds was a dominant 12-1 win in the 2014-2015 season at Sault Ste. Marie.
The next opponent the Marauders will face are the Laurentian Voyageurs. McMaster will host the first game on Oct. 1 at the Ron Joyce Stadium, then travel to Sudbury for the away game on Oct. 3. Although McMaster has not against played the Voyageurs before, they will be hoping to grab as many points as possible, considering that Laurentian had only two wins in their season last year, while being defeated a total of eight times.
Of all potential opponents in the regular season, it’s speculated that the Marauders’ biggest challenge may be the Toronto Varsity Blues. Although Toronto did place fourth in their eastern division in last year’s season, they excelled through the playoffs and made it to the finals, where they lost to the York Lions. This high standard of soccer only promises an exciting match between the Blues and the Marauders. The first fixture will take place on Oct. 6 in Hamilton and the second game will take place four days later in Toronto.
Joelle Chackal, the Marauders’ central striker, is confident that the team has the ability to make it past the playoffs and improve on the team’s previous records.
“I think that there is a big chance of us progressing into the play-offs and making it far, but we have to take it one step at a time. It is also a very young squad, composed of lower-year students, so we have a lot of potential going forward. WI am very excited to take part in the season and I am looking forward to it,” said Chackal.
When asked about the toughest challenge in the upcoming season, Chackal reiterated that the Toronto Varsity Blues would likely pose the biggest challenge.
“I think that out of all the teams, Toronto would be the toughest one. They have the biggest financing and have had an extremely strong team in the past couple of years. But I am positive that we will do our best to prevent any unwanted result against them,” explained Chackal.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted some progress in women’s soccer for over a year, the new season brings nothing but excitement and confidence among the squad, who are looking forward to experiencing university-level soccer.