A more offensive touch from WLU women’s soccer

When people think of soccer, they usually think of games that stretch on, fans waiting on the edge of their seats for the deciding goal to break the deadlock. They don’t expect games with a ton of goals.

But the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s soccer team goes against that stereotype, bringing a more unique style of play — and a lot more goals for entertainment.

The end of the 2014 season meant some Hawks had to say goodbye — goalkeeper Maggie Carmichael decided to complete her post-graduate studies at Queen’s University while midfielder Jessica Craig transferred to the University of Ontario Institute Technology Ridgebacks, the very team that eliminated the Hawks in the Ontario University Athletics final four last year. The Hawks also said goodbye to former captain Kelsey Tikka and midfielder Julie Maheu to graduation.

That didn’t seem to phase the Hawks as they routed the Algoma Thunderbirds 18-1 and 15-0 to kick off the opening weekend of the OUA season on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31.

In all fairness, Algoma put up a good fight, even after Nicole Lyon scored her first of four goals three minutes into the first game and six different Hawks found the scoresheet in the first 45 minutes.

The Thunderbirds only lost motivation when their own defender deflected a corner kick past goalkeeper Enya Farelly to  give Laurier a 15-0 lead in the 77th minute.

Head coach Barry MacLean said it was a good test for the Hawks to keep to their system.

“Well, I mean it’s a good exercise for us. We had to try and remain disciplined and keep things that we are trying to do for the year. We just tried to do the things we do over and over, and we got a lot of players to play which was positive,” he said of playing Algoma, a team that is in just their second season amongst the elite in the OUA.

Even after retiring their starting 11, including fifth-year striker Emily Brown, the depth of the Hawk bench would overwhelm the Thunderbirds chances. Laurier was just as aggressive, forcing the Thunderbirds to play on their heels the entire game.

“It’s always important to strengthen our bench,” Brown said. “Our starting 11 players are really strong but it helps to have a few players on the bench to come in and compete as well with us. It’s really important to stay competitive within our own team.”

It doesn’t stop with Algoma. Little tweaks are being made to the Hawks’ style of play that will make them more dangerous to play against.

“Well, last year we had a tendency to get a little bit up the wings and get crosses in, and we do the same this year but it’s more dynamic, it’s more fluid and I think the top four are just, they all have amazing foot skills, so they are all just switching in and out and little passes in the box,” fourth-year midfielder Katie Bishop said.

So what does this mean? Well last year Laurier was well known for flying up the wing, battling against the opponent’s defender, and then crossing the ball to the middle to land in the feet of strikers Brown or Lyon to finish. By bringing a more aggressive approach to the pitch, spectators can expect more goals, more possession and more contributors.

Spectators can also expect Julie Karn to use her speed to fly past opponents and create scoring chances. There will be little passes in the opponent’s box between four strong Hawk competitors, or as Bishop calls it, playing “very Barcelona.”

Moreover, Hawks could become an offensive juggernaut without sacrificing any defence. Laurier was never known for having games that were decided by one goal — for the most part, the Hawks took a commanding lead for the majority of their games which led to their 62 goals for count last year. After putting up a combined 33 goals in two games of soccer, it’s no secret there’s an arsenal of weapons.

“I think we have a really strong attack,” Bishop said. “I think we’re capable of scoring a ton of goals and our defence is good. If we can do that I think we can tear apart all the teams.”

Leave a Reply