The herd sweeps first leg of Duckworth Challenge

Bisons women’s soccer dominates series against Wesmen

The Bisons women’s soccer team kicked off the Duckworth Challenge this past weekend with a bang. The herd swept the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, going 2-0 over the weekend, winning the first leg of the 2023-24 Duckworth Challenge and collecting some much-needed conference points.

The Duckworth Challenge was established in the 1991-92 season by Henry E. Duckworth, who held tenure as University of Winnipeg president and as University of Manitoba chancellor at different points in his career. The event was created with the intention of fuelling the cross-town rivalry between the two universities. Currently, the Bisons hold the most wins in the Challenge, with a record of 15-9-7.

The Challenge consists of men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball and women’s soccer, and is a best-three-out-of-five series.

In women’s soccer, which was added to the Challenge in the 2013 season, the Bisons have dominated the Wesmen. The last time the Wesmen beat the Bisons in the regular season was in October of 2016.

The first game of the weekend series on Saturday afternoon at IG Field was incredibly physical. The herd dominated play, registering 26 shots — including 13 shots on the Wesmen’s net — while Bisons veteran goalkeeper Karina Bagi only faced six shots on net.

Rookie midfielder Lulu Bordeaux was in the starting lineup for still-injured defender Ava Memka, fitting right in with the veterans and making solid defensive plays. Veteran forward Nicole Davis relentlessly pressed the Wesmen’s defence and forward Janelle Chomini pressured the Wesmen’s goalie late in the second half.

The game remained tied until the 82nd minute, when rookie midfielder Taryn Cabak recorded her third goal of the season off a pass from defender Breyanna Johnston-Krulicki. The Bisons went on to record their third win of the season with the 1-0 finish, shutting out their cross-town rivals and winning the first contest of the Duckworth Challenge.

The herd picked up where it left off in the second game against the Wesmen on Sunday afternoon. Making the trek to the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex, the Bisons opened the scoring early in the fifth minute of play with a fantastic corner kick from captain Jessica Tsai, who bent the ball straight into the net.

Pressing the Wesmen relentlessly once again, the herd’s second goal came minutes later with a header by rookie defender Evelyn Lekivetz — her first goal with the herd — off a Johnston-Krulicki corner kick.

The Bisons took a 2-0 lead into halftime, recording seven corner kicks in the first half alone.

The second half was more of the same with a late goal — and first of the season — by forward Paris Sidhu, putting the Bisons up 3-0. Johnston-Krulicki recorded her second assist on the day and third assist of the weekend with the goal.

There was a scary moment late in the game when Bisons forward Camila Goldsztein went down after knocking heads with Wesmen defender Sydney Arnold. Luckily, both players were able to walk off the pitch of their own accord.

By the end of the game, the herd had registered nine corners and eight shots on net in the 3-0 win.

Bagi faced four shots on net on the afternoon, securing back-to-back shutouts against the Wesmen for the herd. The Bisons goalie will have two more games this season to tie or surpass the women’s soccer program saves record.

With the weekend sweep, the Bisons leapt over the University of Regina Cougars in the standings, capturing fifth place in the Canada West Prairie Conference.

The herd will host the Cougars on Saturday at home on the West Turf Field before playing its final game of the regular season against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at IG Field on Sunday.