Friday, 7 October 2011

College Women: St. Lawrence Vikings 0, Seneca Sting 3

It was a fantastic day for soccer today with blue skies, some cloud, and lots of warmth from the sun. I left work to head over to the St. Lawrence College field for the 3:30pm kickoff of the women's game, and ended up arriving just around 3pm. Imagine my surprise to see that the game had already kicked off and was almost thirty minutes in already!

The Seneca Sting team was dressed in all red, complete with long sleeved shirts, and was leading the St. Lawrence Vikings 1-0 already. St. Lawrence was dressed in their standard white tops, black shorts (with white highlights), and black socks (with red highlights). My immediate impression on arrival was that Seneca obviously deserved their lead. They were controlling the play, moving the ball around comfortably, and forcing St. Lawrence to constantly chase the play.

A couple of minutes after I arrived, Seneca got a corner on the far side of the field. The ball came across the goal area. St. Lawrence's goalkeeper, Jessica Dodge, came for the ball but missed it entirely. One of her defenders was able to half clear it to the top corner of the penalty area. Hilda Chmait, midfielder for Seneca, hit the ball toward the net and it took a huge deflection before nestling inside the far post to put the Sting up 2-0. Once the ball changed directions, nobody moved and everybody just watched the ball enter the goal.

St. Lawrence's outside right midfielder (#14) suffered what appeared to be a nasty injury almost immediately after the kickoff. As she was collecting the ball, she collided with a Seneca player and went down grabbing her thigh, almost like she had suffered a charlie horse or "dead leg" as they seem to call them on the telly. She was helped off the field and did not return to the game.

By half-time, it seemed obvious to me that the Viking players had an excellent grasp of the game, lots of good tactical ideas, but were suffering from a poor first touch and were not anticipating the play very well when they did not have the ball. Their goalkeeper was not inspiring much confidence in the quarter-hour of play I saw either. When she came for the ball, she was always trying to push it away, but seemed to have trouble judging its flight and asserting herself on the field of play.

The second half started a lot more brightly for St. Lawrence as they were able to hold onto possession and pressure the Seneca defense. This pressure almost paid off in the 50th minute as St. Lawrence's striker #11 got a foot on the ball and flicked it across the goal toward the far post. Seneca's goalkeeper was able to get her fingertips on the ball and push it just wide of the post and out for a corner kick.

St. Lawrence continued to hold the ball well, and it was a surprise in the 58th minute when one of their passes went awry. Seneca's centre midfielder got onto the ball and put it out to the left wing. An excellent give and go between the left striker and the left midfielder led to the outside left putting an excellent cross into the penalty area. Dodge came out and punched the ball away, but it fell right to Seneca's other striker, Salha Aziz, and she made no mistake in putting the ball into the empty net to make the score 3-0.

Both teams seemed to almost play out the game for the rest of the second half with few good chances falling either way. The only really noteworthy incident came right before the end of the game when one of Seneca's strikers clipped the St Lawrence goalkeeper as she slid to collect a ball. Dodge stayed down for a couple of minutes and had to be helped off the field. She was replaced in goal, and the final whistle blown shortly thereafter.

The Vikings played a much better game in the second half than the first, as they pressed the Seneca players when they did not have the ball, and took the time to slow the game down and look for options when they did have the ball. Overall, the Seneca Sting did outplay them, but the gulf between the two teams did not seem nearly as large by the end of the game as it had at half-time.

The women play their next game this coming Wednesday afternoon at home against Fleming, with the men following them.

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