Volume 92, Issue 16

Wednesday, September 30, 1998

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Soccer psych-out

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

WAIT 'TIL YOU SEE WHAT I CAN DO NEXT. After levitating the ball, Western continued to baffle the Gryphons for a 1-0 win.

By Mike Smith

Gazette Writer

The Western womens soccer team held off a determined Guelph Gryphons squad in a narrow 1-0 victory Sunday at J.W. Little Stadium.

In a game which was delayed 20 minutes due to heavy rain, the Mustangs played a strong defensive game to win their fifth in a row. The victory put them in first place in the Ontario West Division.

The only goal of the game came early in the 15th minute when Mustang forward Melissa Verbeek booted in a hard shot from point-blank range giving Western the lead they would never relinquish. Mustang assistant coach Peter Russell said Verbeek "has played superb all week and her leadership has been a huge factor in the five-game winning streak."

Teammate Alyssa Walker agreed. She added that Verbeek, the Ontario University Athletics womens player of the week, makes her presence known when on the field.

"She really brings a physical aspect for the team," Walker said.

Up by one, Western controlled most of the first half and showed a great deal of team speed, beating their opponents to loose balls and clearly looking like the better team.

In the second half, the Gryphons, refreshed from half-time, looked like a totally different team carrying the play early in the half and opening many great chances to get the equalizer.

In the 56th minute of the game, Guelph had its best chance of the contest off a corner kick where a Gryphon forward headed a ball that looked like a sure goal, but was stoned by Mustang left midfielder Laura Walker helping goalkeeper Ana Grgic keep her shutout bid alive.

Meanwhile, Western's best chance to put the team ahead by two goals came in the 58th minute when co-captain Paula Shurge had a spectacular individual, effort undressing Gryphon defenders and rifling a blistering shot just over the crossbar.

Guelph's last great chance to tie a very evenly matched game came in the 72nd minute when a Gryphon striker shot a bullet from about six feet out which just shot over the crossbar.

"The team played a great first half and showed a lot of courage and determination holding off Guelph in the second half," Russell said.

At a record of 5-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of McMaster in the opening game of the season, the Mustangs are setting their sights on a first place regular season finish in the division.

According to Russell, this win should help give the 'Stangs an important psychological edge in a possible play-off showdown with the rival Gryphons.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998