Hamilton, ON- As has been the case in previous games this season, the McMaster Marauders women’s soccer team turned up their attack in the second half.
Facing the Windsor Lancers at Ron Joyce Stadium in the first game of a home-and-home on Sept. 16, the Marauders found themselves tied 1-1 as they pushed for the go-ahead goal.
They had started the game well, carrying forward their momentum from their previous game – their first win of the season. “I think a big thing for us was just carrying into this game how we ended the last game because we ended the last game super strong,” defender Bryanna Caldwell said.
Caldwell put in a rebound in close to give the home side a 1-0 lead 20 minutes into the game. “One of the biggest things we built on was being clinical in the final third,” defender Sara Vogel noted. “Being a new game, that goal was great, right where we wanted to be.”
Windsor equalized with a goal by Kailyn Robertson. The teams exchanged chances as McMaster made a push in the second half.
Ignacia Jimenez, Delaney Vanderwater, Emilie Calabrese and Georgia Merriman all got shots on net. The Marauders had a flurry of chances late in added time as Calabrese’s shot was blocked while Jimenez had a chance in close but was denied by goalie Lauren Gellner. Then, Vanderwater shot the ball high.
Vogel credited the team’s mindset for their strong finish. “I think everyone just realized that all we’ve got to do is just push for 30 more minutes and everyone bought into that,” she added. “We just pushed and pushed for a goal. Everyone wanted to win.”
One of the things the team has emphasized is working as a unit. Vogel said they’ve done so in the past few games. Caldwell noted how the players are all working towards similar goals and want the same things.
“We all want to work for each other and I think the biggest thing is just honestly putting in all the work for each other and for ourselves,” she added. “The small steps are going to help us reach bigger goals.”
The small details were on display late against Friday. As the game wore on and players got tired, according to Caldwell, they pushed each other to the end. “If you’re getting a little tired, someone’s on your shoulder saying keep going, keep pushing,” she noted. “It pushed us through it. I think that is what made us stronger, even towards the second half.”
The Marauders have had some solid showings so far this season in a deep OUA West division. They went on the road and earned a point against the OUA finalist Western Mustangs. They rebounded from a 2-0 loss on the road against Guelph by beating them at home. Against, Windsor, they had back-to-back 1-1 draws. Caldwell and Robertson were once again the goal scorers in the rematch.
The team is full of returning players from last season – Vogel and Caldwell among them. The Marauders have continued to grow – including in team chemistry. Caldwell called it a “massive difference” from the start of preseason to now.
It comes from players valuing friendships, according to her. “I’ve never been on a team with as much chemistry as we have,” Caldwell said. “We build so many relationships on the field and off the field and it starts with off the field and that really does translate.”
That chemistry and togetherness comes from sharing the same mindset. It comes from everyday examples.
“When we’re doing film, we’re never sitting beside the same person,” Caldwell pointed out. “When we’re in the change room, we’re talking to everybody. At the beginning of every single practice, we make a point to say hello to every single person.”
Vogel pointed out how that togetherness leads to them having each other’s backs in games. It could be seen against Windsor.
Having a large group of returning players who were able to grow through last season also helps. “Our core group has this mindset that we want to be a team, we want to be a family, we want to all work hard for each other,” Vogel added. “I think just having that core group just resonates on everyone else and everyone else has really bought into that.”
As a group last season, the players were already building connections with each other. Now with many players back, those connections have been made stronger, according to Caldwell. Meanwhile, they’ve been building connections with the first-year players as well.
The Marauders will look to continue adding positive results in their upcoming games. They currently sit sixth in the OUA West but are only four points behind third-place York.
The Marauders host the bottom of the division Waterloo Warriors on Sept. 25 before visiting the fourth place Brock Badgers. An opportunity for further growth awaits.
Caldwell and Vogel both talked about carrying their momentum – their effort and generating quality chances – into future games. One thing seems certain: the Marauders will do so together.
Featured Image: Owen Mertens/McMaster Athletics