Sports

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Second half surge sinks Sherbrooke

The third ranked Martlets got off to a slow start in Friday night’s season opener at Molson Stadium. But a much stronger second half allowed them to escape with a 2-0 victory over the visiting Sherbrooke Vert et Or.

Neither side had been able to find any rhythm or assert itself during the first frame. But the second was a different story. Forward Magalie Kolker opened the scoring three minutes after the break, swinging the momentum in McGill’s favour. Defender Anna Gruending put the game away in the 68th minute with a fortuitous strike from long-range.

“I think we got off to a nervous start,” said Martlet captain Shari Fraser. “We were kicking the ball around and not really keeping it and playing our game.”

The best chance of the first half fell to McGill in the 22nd minute. A bouncing ball from a Martlet corner deflected straight to Fraser who, standing alone just outside the Sherbrooke six yard box, put her shot over the bar.

With McGill unable to capitalize, Sherbrooke grabbed the momentum and began to threaten the Martlet defence. Fraser more than made up for her earlier mistake in front of goal with a number of key defensive interventions that kept the Vert et Or attackers frustrated.

At the break, Head Coach Marc Mounicot knew that his Martlets were not playing up to their capabilities.

“It’s always a question for them to stay a little more composed,” Mounicot said. “I think they were a little bit nervous during the first half. We were not able to keep the ball and play our normal soccer”.

Cooler heads prevailThe Martlets opened the second half much more composed and they were quickly rewarded with a beautiful goal which more than made up for the drab performance up to that point. Midfielder Carolyne Pelletier managed to shake off a defender before whipping in an inch-perfect cross for Magalie Kolker who expertly headed the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net to put McGill ahead 1-0.

McGill doubled its lead on 68 minutes when a long ball pumped into the Sherbrooke area by Anna Gruending was misplayed by Sherbrooke keeper Marie-Michelle Coulomb. Coulomb allowed the ball to bounce over her head and into the net. While clearly not as pretty as the opener, the fact that McGill had controlled play throughout the half meant it was nonetheless deserved. McGill continued to dominate the rest of the way, maintaining possession and dictating play.

Lofty goalsThe game demonstrated that the Martlets have some areas which they need to work on if they hope to achieve their lofty goals for the season. Coach Mounicot singled out the relations between the midfield and the strikers as being one that needed improvement. Nevertheless, the team recognized the importance of opening with a win.

“It was really important,” Kolker said. “We’ve had a lot of goals right from the preseason: We want to win every game in the league and come out first to go to Nationals being one of the top teams. We also wanted no goals against so it was nice we had that outcome. It’s good momentum.”

Momentum which these Martlets hope to continue to build on all the way to the CIS Championships in Victoria.

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