By Adriana Skaljin
The McMaster women's soccer team started off their 2018 campaign strong, and throughout the season, proved that they have become even stronger towards the end of it.
“This team has a lot of talent, so it is nice to see it translated into results," said team captain Stephanie Roberts.
Going into their last two games of the regular season, the Marauders sit with a record of 6-3-5; good enough for fourth place in the Ontario University Athletics West division. Their wins are results of their strong work ethic, as described by Roberts and echoed by her teammates.
Season highlights include their home opener against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks on Aug. 24, and their six-point weekend at the end of September, with wins over the York University Lions and the University of Guelph Gryphons.
Their home opener against the Golden Hawks foreshadowed the strong season that followed, as the team began that game with a bang, getting up 3-0 in the first half. This allowed the team to cruise to season-opening 4-1 win.
"This was an amazing way to start off the season," Roberts said.
With York and Guelph traditionally being two of their strongest competitors, back-to-back games against these rivals were positioned to be a tough test for the Marauders. Coming out with six points over that weekend truly showed the strength of the McMaster team. In both games, the Marauders shut out their opponents with 1-0 wins.
Despite their dominant wins and solid ties throughout the season, the team did fall short of a few key victories.
Described as their toughest moment of the season, the team suffered a "winning drought" of six straight winless games. This included all three of their losses during this season, punctuated by a one-goal loss to the Western University Mustangs.
"This [challenge] caused us to work harder in practice," said Roberts. "We ended up coming back from this by beating two teams that were ahead of us in the standings."
The hard work paid off, as they women bounced back with four straight wins.
The team's greatest weakness seems to be that they are unlucky at times, resulting in ties and losses. Sometimes, the unlucky bounces just overpower the skills of the players. Including their 2-1 Sept. 21 loss to the Mustangs, where they blew a 1-0 lead early in the second half.
That score did not reflect their performance, as their strong defensive and offensive skills showed. This game is an example of the ways in which the scoreboard was not defined by their playing abilities.
“We have had some unfortunate breaks, but are overall playing good soccer,” head coach Joe Valvasori said.
Most recently, the Marauders collected a couple of 1-1 ties, tying Laurier in Waterloo, and returning home to tie the University of Waterloo Warriors. The team will next be travelling to Sault Ste. Marie to face the Algoma Thunderbirds in back-to-back games to close off their season.
Women's Soccer -- FINAL: The Marauders split the points in Waterloo. ⚽ pic.twitter.com/2ozUiplj7N
— McMaster Athletics (@McMasterSports) October 7, 2018
"We have always had success playing against them, so we are hoping to have successes again this year," explained Roberts. "However, these are a crucial six points and we cannot take any team lightly in our league, so it will definitely be a battle."
As the team moves forward towards the playoffs, they are hoping to finish in third or fourth, and are confident that they are talented enough to beat any team they may face. Their confidence and skill will definitely be exhibited in their upcoming games.
“As we near the end of our season, I can say with confidence that we now play more as a unit, and not just as individuals,” said Roberts.
Looking ahead to next season, the team anticipates that with the number of fifth-year students on the team, they will all definitely go out with a bang.
Catch their next games against the Thunderbirds on Oct. 20 and 21 at 1:00 p.m.
The McMaster men’s baseball team season has been off to a fairly good start. Sitting in fourth place in the Ontario University Athletics standings, the Marauders have a 7-3 record without even playing at home yet.
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks delivered the Marauders’ first loss of the campaign, while the team’s other losses came in back-to-back games against the Brock University Badgers. Yet, the next weekend, they bounced back to kick off a 4-0 winning streak. This is not easy to do as home field advantage can often weigh in on the outcome of a match; despite this, the Marauders talent has shone through.
“With this being our first game at home, it's kind of an anomaly, because usually we play an 18-game season and our home and away games are split between. But this year, it just so happened that we played all our away games in the beginning,” said former player Kenny Noguchi, who now works as the team’s social media manager.
[spacer height="20px"]With only home games remaining for the rest of the team’s season, this puts the Marauders in a good position to get the support they need to finish off strong. Also, a new stadium closer to school helps too.
“We used to play at Bernie Arbour Stadium which was up the mountain,” said Noguchi. “But now it's at Volunteer Park in Dundas, so it's a lot more accessible for students which is awesome.”
Although the team is not a U Sports team, Noguchi believes it is still just as important for McMaster students to support them like they do others.
“All sports here on campus are equally important from everything to squash to baseball to badminton,” said Noguchi. “All athletes are working very hard to represent our school in the best way we can, so to get some more support from the fans would be awesome.”
This weekend’s matches against the University of Guelph Gryphons and the University of Western Ontario Mustangs are the first games at home for the Marauders.
Catch them this Saturday and Sunday at Volunteer Park.