Hamilton, ON- The pass came in and Mia Paiement knew she had to finish it. The McMaster Marauders women’s soccer team was already up 1-0 on the Waterloo Warriors when Paiement capitalized on her chance.
Defender Madison Goertz had whipped in a pass from the side. Paiement connected on it and slide it into the back of the net. Celebration ensued.
Paiement credited the Marauders’ build-up to the goal and Goertz’ pass. “We worked so hard to get the ball to me, I can’t mess this one up,” she recalled. “Then, when it went in…I was like, did that really just happen?”
It did. The first-year forward from Hamilton scored her first career U Sports goal in her fifth career regular season game. It was her second shot on goal of the season.
Paiement is one of many local players on this Marauders squad. Nine to be exact from either Burlington, Hamilton, Waterdown or Ancaster.
Paiement grew up playing soccer in Hamilton. She played at St. Thomas More in high school and Hamilton United in League One Ontario. Now she’s playing at her hometown school.
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to play for Mac,” she noted.
She credits her teammates and coaches with helping with her transition to university. “It was a very big cushion for my nerves,” she said.
“I think having the coaches and trainers and the girls, they really, really helped me throughout the transition to university because honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without them,” she added.
The team dynamic has grown since the start of the season, according to Paiement. It’s also helped third-year defender (in her second year of eligibility) Kiarra Bailey – another local player from Burlington – grow as well.
“This is a great talented group so just getting to work with them on times has really pushed me, on the field and off the field,” Bailey noted.
She remembers coming out to one of their training camps and liking the environment and the team. It drew her into coming to McMaster.
Back on the pitch during that Saturday afternoon against the Warriors, the Marauders had grown over the course of the game.
“We didn’t play to our full potential. I think we kind of played down at the beginning. We were relaxed,” Paiement said. “It wasn’t until the beginning of the second half, we came out stronger and a little more urgent because we realized early on what happened.”
McMaster was pushing. They created chance after chance. Defender Bryanna Caldwell scored her team-leading fourth goal of the season off a corner to give them a 1-0 edge late in the first half. Paiement’s goal gave them a 2-0 lead and Waterloo goalkeeper Hannah Petrosino’s red card gave them a one-player advantage.
Paiement’s mind after scoring her first goal immediately went to getting the next one. “We better get another one,” she remembers thinking. “We need more but we didn’t [get it].”
Soon the tide had turned as Waterloo created their own chances and capitalized. Midfielder Jenny Ha came on in the second half and pounced on a ball inside the box and scored to make it 2-1 in the 76th minute.
Then, almost ten minutes later, Ha found fellow midfielder and second-half substitute Samantha Desouza for the equalizer.
“We just had a few mental mistakes where one person was pulled out of position and then we got split second again, just unable to recover,” Bailey said.
“It’s just those times where we were caught off guard,” Paiement added. “It’s just those couple of times and it cost us the game.”
On the other end, McMaster couldn’t finish off more chances. They had 16 shots, including 11 on goal. Some shots were saved. Some just missed the net. Some runs and scoring chances were also flagged for offside.
Megan Mamela, Ignacia Jimenez and Joelle Chackal each had a team-high two shots on net. Paiement said the key going forward is their movement off the ball.
“We started in the second half with a little bit more movement off the ball and creating runs,” she said. “I think the more we do that, the more opportunities we have like that and in upcoming games, the more chances we’re going to get.”
Bailey pointed to composure as a factor as well. “I think we all have the ability to do that. Just sometimes we panic last minute,” she noted.
The Marauders will likely need those factors in the second half of the season. They currently sit seventh in the OUA West with five games remaining. They will need to finish in the top six to make the playoffs.
Up next, they visit fourth-place Brock with a chance to move into playoff positioning. Bailey mentioned the focus on playing the full 90 minutes as hard and best as they can. Paiement talked about building upon the scoring opportunities they created against Waterloo.
“I think that next game, we’re going to come out even more hungry,” she said. “We need to capitalize on these opportunities we’re getting…we’re going to do fine.”
Just like she did for her first career Marauder goal.
Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics