November 4, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 36  

Front Page >> Sports > Story


> News
> Editorial & Opinions
> Arts & Entertainment
> Campus Life
> Sports


> Archives
> Search Archive:
> Browse By Date:

More Stuff

> Photo Gallery
> Comics
> Contests
> Links

Talk to Us

> About Us
> Submit Letter
> Volunteers
> Advertising
> Gazette Alumni Society


Mustangs bow out in semi-final

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

There's an old saying that every cloud has a silver lining. For Western's women's soccer squad, the lining came instead with a bronze tinge.

After falling 1-0 to the eventual Ontario University Athletics champion Ottawa Gee-Gees on Saturday, the Western women's soccer team was able to regroup and capture the bronze on Sunday. In a game that took place in the midst of a seemingly torrential downpour, the Mustang women bested the ladies from Laurier by a mark of 3-0.

Before his team competed in the gold medal game against Queen's, Ottawa head coach Steve Johnson praised Western's performance on Saturday: "Western's a very strong team -that's obvious from their undefeated season," Johnson said. "Our defense played fabulous and we shut down Western's attack. We needed to do that, since we weren't going to win in a shoot-out." Western head coach Mike Van Bussel agreed with Johnson's appraisal of the game. "It's a testament to Ottawa's defense. They played well defensively and followed up a great game plan with a lot of hustle," he said.

For the high-octane Mustangs, who outscored their regular season opponents 47-3, the loss to Ottawa was a shock. "We were devastated -we thought we deserved more," veteran Jessica Van Dyk said. "Looking back, maybe we were pressing too hard."

With a trip to the nationals out of the question, the women nevertheless competed on Sunday with their usual high energy level. Following Saturday's loss, the Mustang women decided they were going to compete in the bronze medal game wholeheartedly. "We said, 'let's play to have fun, let's play for the love of the game," Van Dyk said.

Newfound perspective in hand, Sunday's game was very one-sided as the majority of the action took place in the Laurier end. Western had a near-endless string of chances but was unable to put the game out of reach until late in the second half.
The first (and eventual game-winning) goal was netted by Eva Havaris on a free kick midway through the first half. Adding to the score was Sarah Reagan and Cristina Bonasia, who both notched markers in the second half.

In the Mustangs's end, keeper Jessy Kapitany posted yet another goose egg. Her only real challenges came midway through the first half and late in the second. Those chances were met with a spectacular diving save and a jumping block that tipped the ball over the crossbar.

One of the factors in the team's season long success was its tight-knit nature. That aspect was clear on Sunday, as the squad rallied around an injured Jenna Byrne at half time, surrounding her and performing the team's "1-2-3 'Stangs!" rally call. "This is the most cohesive team I've ever played for," Van Dyk commented.

Laurier head coach Barry Maclean had nothing but praise for the victors. "Overall for me, they're the best team in Ontario. It's unfortunate they're not going further."

Van Bussel agreed with Maclean's sentiments. "We have a great group of people on this team." At the game's conclusion, multiple accolades were presented to the team. Eva Havaris was named Most Valuable Player in the OUA's Northwest Division and Jenna Byrne was awarded Rookie of the Year for the same region. Finally, Van Bussel was named Coach of the Year for the division.

However, the team members would have preferred an OUA championship over their individual recognition. "I'd give up my award in an instant if it meant we could have won gold instead of bronze," Van Bussel stated. "It's been a real pleasure to coach this team. It's a credit to [the players] to come back from such disappointment to win -it shows how mentally tough the team is."

As for the off season, the team will continue to practice indoors and there are tentative plans for the team to travel to China and Singapore over reading week to compete against national teams. When asked about the season as a whole, Van Bussel saw it as a success: "We had 12 rookies and you're expect to have some growing pains, but there weren't any. The veterans played a huge role in helping the transition."




Sports Links

© 2003 The Gazette  
BluThng Productions