Mustangs bow out in semi-final
By David Lee
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
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
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
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