Volume 93, Issue x
Wednesday, March 18, 1999
Women's soccer team ties Guelph
© Chris Chaconas/Gazette
I REFUSE TO SHARE THE BALL WITH YOU, NOW GO AWAY. Although Western hogged the ball, they did share the score as they tied Guelph 1-1 on Saturday.
By Michael Murphy
Saturday afternoon, Western's women's soccer team couldn't seem to checkmate the pesky Guelph Gryphons and had to settle instead for a 1-1 stalemate.
The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when a deftly placed ball from striker Amme Harding eluded Guelph's lunging keeper. The women maintained their one goal advantage and seemed firmly in charge until early in the second half, when Guelph forward Andrea Snowden deflected a lofty cross through the Western posts to even the score.
The Mustangs generated a few promising scoring chances late in the game, but savvy Guelph goaltending foiled even their best efforts and the match ended in a disappointing deadlock.
The draw was particularly dissatisfying for the Western team, who knows they can play better. Mustang head coach Sheri Kitching commented, "What's disappointing is that we have a really strong program and all the girls are great athletes, but we're not playing up to our potential yet."
Harding, Western's lone scorer, also thought the team could play much better. "We have many strengths: offence, defence everything. We just have to start playing our game," she said.
Kitching cited inconsistency as a problem, stating the women played well when focused, but only really held their focus for two-thirds of the match. Harding echoed these sentiments. "We wanted to come out and play hard for 90 minutes, but we were only really there for about 60 today," she said.
Comparing this year's edition of the Mustangs to last season's Ontario University Athletics champion squad, Gryphon's head coach Laurie Halfpenny described the new breed as being about equally as strong as last year's. "They're not much better or worse. Games with Western are always hard-fought."
Halfpenny said she was especially impressed by the Mustangs' intensity and cohesiveness. "Their biggest strength is desire. They work well together as a team and they're on your butts all game." As for deficiencies in the Mustang's play on Saturday, Halfpenny added, "I think they just need one or two key players to step up for them.
"We need to increase our possession percentage," Kitching added, assessing her team's play. "We have very good ball-handlers and we need to get them the ball more."
The regular season is now three games old and the women are off to a relatively slow, 1-1-1, start. However, Kitching was undaunted and emphasized early disappointments can motivate the team to achieve future successes. "It gives us incentive and lets us know what we need to do to improve," she said.
Kitching added the calibre of league competition is good this year and predicts there will be considerable parity in the Western division. She also noted opposing teams are always eager to knock off the provincial champs, so every game the women play this season will be energetically contested.
Both Kitching and her team remain optimistic, determined and confident they can retain their Ontario soccer crown. The women may not be playing up to snuff yet, but as Kitching says, "We're still the team to beat."
Copyright © The Gazette 1999