Hamilton, ON- As their seniors day game came and went, the moment still hadn’t sunk in yet for Delaney Vanderwater and Franka Subic afterwards.
“It hasn’t hit me,” Subic said. “It hasn’t kicked in,” Vanderwater added.
On a late October afternoon, Vanderwater, Subic and the McMaster women’s soccer team celebrated the occasion with a 3-1 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks on Oct. 23 to close out the regular season.
Before the Laurier game, the team honoured their five seniors – Ignacia Jimenez, Megan Mamela, Vanderwater, Jessica Marino and Subic – with a framed jersey each.
Once the game began, the home team made their impact. Alena Spehar found Madison Goertz for the game’s opening goal just over 10 minutes in.
McMaster was creating chances while also defending against Laurier’s attacks.
Just before halftime, Forward Joelle Chackal chipped the ball to Spehar who dribbled past the keeper and slotted the ball into the net.
The game remained even in terms of chances in the second half as Chackal scored her own goal in the 80thminute right after Laurier’s Jyanessa Sealey made it 2-1.
The victory ensured the Marauders would finish fourth in the OUA West and host a playoff game. It marked the most goals they’ve scored in a game this season.
“The composure really showed today,” Subic noted. “The runs off the ball, slotting to channels, being calm on the ball, knowing where your passes are.”
Vanderwater said confidence played a big factor as well in their scoring success.
“There was a lot of lacking confidence in previous games, just trying to overthink it,” she noted. “I think today, everyone had their head in the game and they were ready to go for it and take chances.”
It was also their first game in over two weeks as their two games against the Algoma Thunderbirds were cancelled due to COVID protocols. The Marauders were awarded two 3-0 wins by forfeit.
“At first it’s excitement and then there was a lot of realization that you know we didn’t earn these points,” Vanderwater said. “So we still need to work hard. We still need to train and practice this week like if it was any other weekend.”
The team did so. They even played an inter-squad scrimmage game to keep up the intensity.
By the time the Laurier game came around, the team also made some changes to the starting lineup. Some starters didn’t play while some bench players saw the field. The team made five substitutions.
“It’s really helpful to know we have a deep bench,” Vanderwater said. “Give it your all. You know someone else is there to give it their all afterwards.”
As the game went along, Subic said they were also “pumped” up by the support they received on seniors day.
It means their Marauder careers are potentially come to an end soon. Subic remembers seeing teammates celebrate their seniors days in the past and not fully realizing it then. It didn’t feel like her teammates were leaving. It always felt like they would be back, according to her.
“Knowing that I’m in that place right now, it’s kind of surreal because they’re my family,” she added. “The hours you put in is countless. I wouldn’t change it for the world. So for me not to have that in my life, it hasn’t hit me yet.”
Vanderwater said the team’s family environment stood out most from her experience at McMaster. They spent countless hours together building bonds and relationships. It extends to the whole team.
“It’s crazy to me. I’ve always heard of experiences of people going to university and just being a number, just being someone on the bench,” she added. “Even the girls on the bench are so incorporated into what we’re doing. They’re so involved and they’re so enthusiastic. It’s unbelievable.”
Their journeys are ones of growth. Vanderwater was injured when she came into the team from Calgary. She remembers the hard transition, moving away from home and not knowing anyone when she arrived. She built up her confidence and resiliency over time.
“Believing in myself a little bit more, getting more opportunities, more chances because I’m working hard and earning them,” she noted.
Subic also gained confidence over time. The Mississauga native made the team in 2018 as a walk on, winning an OUA title as a redshirt. She earned playing time the following seasons, including with many Marauder teammates on Hamilton United in League One Ontario.
Her confidence comes from knowing that she earned her place on the team and on the field.
“You’re here for a reason,” she said. “You’re contributing in various aspects, whether it’s on the field, off the field, during practice…just who you are as an individual. Those relationships you form with your teammates.”
They’ll have those relationships going forward. They also still have eligibility left and didn’t close the door on returning to McMaster.
Ahead of them is at least one more game. The Marauders face the Brock Badgers in the first round of the OUA playoffs on Oct. 26. They beat the Badgers on the road earlier in the season. “Unfinished business,” Subic and Vanderwater called it.
“Right now, I’m just optimistic to go into the next few games,” Vanderwater noted. “Try and ignore the fact that it could be the last one.”
Featured Image: Rick Zazulak/McMaster Athletics