The Western Mustangs soccer teams captured diversely important 1-0 wins over the Guelph Gryphons this weekend.
The Gryphons are a top contender in the league and both mustangs Mustangs teams knew that finding victory would be a hard-fought battle.
Though both teams came out with the same result, they came into the games in very different standings. Where the women have been on a hot streak virtually all season, the men were looking for redemption after a three-game losing streak.
Still, after much back-and-forth play, the Mustangs fought hard and came out with very important victories for Western.
Women's top their division
For the women’s team, the win over the Gryphons brought them to the top spot in the west division.
The women kicked off the first game with lots of energy. But, coming into the game with almost identical records, Guelph matched Western's determination.
Though the two were evidently well-matched, Guelph played the early stages of the first half stronger. The Gryphons outnumbered the Mustangs in shots, more than a number of them proved to be quite close calls for the 'Stangs
On several occasions, offensive rushes by the Gryphon’s found the Mustang’s defence scrambling to drop back. By the luck of wide shots, and agile saves by Western goalie Megan Girardi, the Mustangs held the Gryphons at bay.
Women's head coach Martin Painter, commented on the initial pressures of the competition.
“We started slowly. Guelph is a good team and they put some pressure on us — we struggled dealing with that early on in the game,” said Painter. “As the game went on, we got a little more comfortable and confident.”
By the latter part of the first half, the Mustangs had found their footing and began pushing back on the Gryphons collected composure. But it wasn’t until the beginning of the second half that Western was able to finish the job.
In the 52ndminute of the game, dynamic first-year striker Sabine Gillie-Hardy netted the ball after a strong pass from teammate Alyssa DeSantis.
Though the Gryphons put up a tenacious fight, especially within the last few minutes of play, the final score stood at 1-0 in favour of the Mustangs.
Until this game, Western and Guelph were neck and neck in the West division having each won against four opponents, tied one, and lost none. But as mentioned earlier, this victory put the Mustangs in the top position of the West division with a record of 5-0-1.
“We put ourselves in a good situation, but we have to keep moving forward and not take anyone lightly,” said Painter. “Week to week there are no easy games, we got off to a good start but we’ve had to fight for it.”
Though there is still much of the season left, the women’s team has shown a great amount of promise quite early on.
Men's end losing streak
For the men’s team, this victory marked a significant comeback from a three-game losing streak against some of their toughest opponents.
The Mustangs came out ready to battle. They moved the ball quickly across the field and dominated Guelph in shots.
Western had their first shot on net in just the second minute of the game, and throughout the first half they kept up a relentless offence.
But, just as quick as Western’s offence could find open space, Guelph’s defence was quick to repossess the ball when it posed a threat.
This back and forth kept on throughout the majority of the game. It wasn’t until the 77th minute of play that Western found a direct line to the goal. First-year Mustang Josh Rowland played the ball up through the middle and midfielder Anthony Chrysanthou netted it.
“I was just out on the wing and came into the middle, saw the space in behind… The goalie came out and I put it beside him,” said Chysanthou.
With over an hour of deadlocked play, the goal provided much needed reassurance for the team. They went on to play with even more tenacity, and, despite some good plays made by the Gryphons, Western held their lead for the remainder of the game.
“There was no pressure or expectations,” said head coach Parker Seymour. “People didn’t expect us to win a game like this, just having a bit less pressure on ourselves, we could pull out a win and that is what we did.”
The final score stood at 1-0 in favour of the Mustangs, and the team definitively ended their tough losing streak.
Both teams will play against Brock University at home on Saturday Sept. 21., as the women take on the Badgers at 1 p.m. and the men at 3:15 p.m.