With the playoffs already a lock, the U of M Bisons women’s soccer team played host to a pair of Alberta clubs, fighting for the final postseason spot in the Prairie division. Manitoba came away from the weekend with a pair of wins, locking down third in the division in the process.
Hopes were dashed Friday night, as a 3-1 Bisons win mathematically eliminated the Mount Royal University Cougars from playoff contention.
Nicole Davis continued her stellar offensive season with her seventh goal of the campaign late in the match. Meanwhile, powerhouse rookie defender Stefanie Young got on the score sheet in the wrong way, committing a foul which led to the lone Cougars tally.
Gabrielle Clark also had a strong performance with two goals on the night, including the game winner.
First, Clark had to open the scoring. After Davis drew a penalty kick, the third-year midfield took her place on the spot and cashed in for a 1-0 Bisons lead in the 12th minute.
The misplay by Young set up a penalty kick for Mount Royal in the 37th minute. Quinn Hardstaff rifled a shot off the post and in to knot the game 1-1 in the first half.
The tied score held until the 70th minute, when Clark gained back the lead for her team. Off a Jessica Tsai corner kick, the ball landed at the feet of Clark, who wasted no time roofing a shot on Cougars keeper Katrina Greenley.
Davis notched the insurance marker in the 72nd minute for a 3-1 Bisons win.
With the loss and a Lethbridge draw against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen Friday, the Cougars sat five points behind the Pronghorns for the final playoff spot. With just one game remaining and a maximum of three points available, the Cougars were eliminated from the playoff hunt.
A cold drizzle fell over West Turf Field Saturday, and the product on the field was similarly cold between the Bisons and University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. Once the sky cleared, the heat grew and Manitoba snagged a 2-0 win.
Bisons head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas was very happy with the win, which was a historic one for the program.
“It’s the first time in program history […] that we finished with eight wins in a season,” she said.
“So it’s a great, great forward step for us.”
After a scoreless first half the Bisons got plenty of chances in the second. Manitoba’s three best chances of the second half all came from Young.
First, the rookie defender danced her way past a pair of Pronghorns defenders and rifled a shot just wide. The herd then collapsed on the Lethbridge goal and Young sent a header on, but Pronghorns keeper Erin Gill punched the ball clear.
Shortly after the header, Young found herself with space just outside the penalty area and sent a strong shot just outside the right post.
Manitoba finally broke through late in the match off the foot of Celeste Gallego. Dalima Chhibber picked up the ball in the penalty area, spun and passed it to Gallego. She paused and fired the shot just inside the right post for the 1-0 Bisons lead.
“I got in and I wasn’t really thinking about anything, as soon as I was in front of the net and I got the ball it was just ‘Finish,’” Gallego said.
Gallego was not done there, finding space just over a minute later to score again.
The Lethbridge defence was too slow, and Gallego broke through the line. Gill came up to challenge, but Gallego ripped a shot top corner for the 2-0 Manitoba lead in the 87th minute, which was all Manitoba needed for the win.