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Women’s soccer flying high heading into the home stretch As a strong regular season draws to a close, the women’s soccer team hopes to learn from where they fell short as they prepare for a post-season run

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Photo C/O McMaster Athletics

By Adriana Skaljin

The McMaster women’s soccer team started off their 2018 campaign strong, and throughout the season, proved that they have become even stronger towards the end of it.

“This team has a lot of talent, so it is nice to see it translated into results,” said team captain Stephanie Roberts.

Going into their last two games of the regular season, the Marauders sit with a record of 6-3-5; good enough for fourth place in the Ontario University Athletics West division.  Their wins are results of their strong work ethic, as described by Roberts and echoed by her teammates. 

Season highlights include their home opener against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks on Aug. 24, and their six-point weekend at the end of September, with wins over the York University Lions and the University of Guelph Gryphons. 

Their home opener against the Golden Hawks foreshadowed the strong season that followed, as the team began that game with a bang, getting up 3-0 in the first half. This allowed the team to cruise to season-opening 4-1 win. 

“This was an amazing way to start off the season,” Roberts said.

With York and Guelph traditionally being two of their strongest competitors, back-to-back games against these rivals were positioned to be a tough test for the Marauders. Coming out with six points over that weekend truly showed the strength of the McMaster team. In both games, the Marauders shut out their opponents with 1-0 wins.

Despite their dominant wins and solid ties throughout the season, the team did fall short of a few key victories. 

Described as their toughest moment of the season, the team suffered a “winning drought” of six straight winless games. This included all three of their losses during this season, punctuated by a one-goal loss to the Western University Mustangs.

“This [challenge] caused us to work harder in practice,” said Roberts. “We ended up coming back from this by beating two teams that were ahead of us in the standings.”

The hard work paid off, as they women bounced back with four straight wins.

The team’s greatest weakness seems to be that they are unlucky at times, resulting in ties and losses. Sometimes, the unlucky bounces just overpower the skills of the players. Including their 2-1 Sept. 21 loss to the Mustangs, where they blew a 1-0 lead early in the second half.

That score did not reflect their performance, as their strong defensive and offensive skills showed. This game is an example of the ways in which the scoreboard was not defined by their playing abilities.

“We have had some unfortunate breaks, but are overall playing good soccer,” head coach Joe Valvasori said.

Most recently, the Marauders collected a couple of 1-1 ties, tying Laurier in Waterloo, and returning home to tie the University of Waterloo Warriors. The team will next be travelling to Sault Ste. Marie to face the Algoma Thunderbirds in back-to-back games to close off their season. 

“We have always had success playing against them, so we are hoping to have successes again this year,” explained Roberts. “However, these are a crucial six points and we cannot take any team lightly in our league, so it will definitely be a battle.”

As the team moves forward towards the playoffs, they are hoping to finish in third or fourth, and are confident that they are talented enough to beat any team they may face. Their confidence and skill will definitely be exhibited in their upcoming games.

“As we near the end of our season, I can say with confidence that we now play more as a unit, and not just as individuals,” said Roberts.

Looking ahead to next season, the team anticipates that with the number of fifth-year students on the team, they will all definitely go out with a bang.

Catch their next games against the Thunderbirds on Oct. 20 and 21 at 1:00 p.m.

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