Depth and finishing in focus as Marauders battle Badgers to stalemates

Hamilton, ON- After the McMaster Marauders women’s soccer team scored seven goals in two games against the Waterloo Warriors to open the season, it was a different story when they faced the Brock Badgers. 

Their home-and-home series ended with two draws – 1-1 at Brock on Sept. 8 and 0-0 at McMaster on Sept. 10. Yet, through it all, the Marauders remain undefeated this season with 8 points in four matches. 

Marauders head coach Garrett Peters called it a tactical battle – a matchup of two organized and determined teams. 

In the second game, when McMaster would adjust, so would Brock. When the Marauders would create chances, so would the Badgers. Neither side could finish them though. 

The Marauders generated their share of chances though. They had 12 shots to Brock’s 8, five shots on goal to Brock’s four and five corners to Brock’s one.

Midfielder Ravina Braich pointed out how the Marauders settled into the game after a frantic start. “We started playing our game instead of their game,” Braich noted. “I just wish we could have finished a couple of the chances but we’ll get it next game.” 

So, the question must be asked: how does the team finish better? 

“I feel like we’ve got to be a lot calmer,” Braich said. “We get all stressed out and we’re not able to focus on getting the ball in the net but we’re working on that and I think it’s coming.”

It comes with confidence and time, according to forward Alyssa Wheeler. “In practice, we’re very clinical,” she added. “We work very very hard. I think it’s just the time aspect.” 

Speaking of confidence, one player that’s been playing with plenty of it is forward Alena Spehar. She scored her OUA-leading seventh goal in their first game against Brock. 

Wheeler’s seen Spehar’s confidence go up so much over time. She’s seen how Spehar’s not scared to play or put up shots. “When you have that confidence and you take your shots, it’s going to go in…or go on frame,” Wheeler added. 

However, against Brock in the second game, the Marauders were without Spehar’s services due to injury. They were also missing defender Tiam Pourbakhtiari as well due to injury.

This has meant squad rotation and different players stepping in. Midfielder Megan Soo had two shots on goal. First-year forward Julia Hesmer came in and played 45 minutes in her OUA debut.

Wheeler said the team has a really deep squad. “Having that rotation will keep us going for longer throughout the season,” she added. It will pay dividends later in the season, according to her. 

Wheeler was one of many subs for McMaster against Brock (Photo: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics)

It paid dividends against Brock as well. In the second half of their second game, the Marauders went to their bench and outshot the Badgers 8-2 “We started to take over a bit more and that’s because we’re able to make some very valuable subs,” Peters noted. 

In each game against Brock, 16 players saw the field for McMaster.  “We have a very deep roster that’s quite talented,” Peters noted. “So just got to trust that people are going to come in and do their job.” 

On the defensive side, the Marauders have only allowed one goal in their past three games. Goalkeeper Ali Mudie made nine saves in the series against Brock. Bryanna Caldwell and Sara Vogel were the central defenders. Peters said they were “pretty defensively sound” during the weekend. 

Four games into the season, McMaster is tied with the Laurier Golden Hawks atop the OUA West. They have a road game against the Algoma Thunderbirds on Sept. 17 before a home-and-home with those Golden Hawks the following weekend. 

Even though they didn’t pick up a win versus Brock, the games still served as a terrific opportunity, according to their head coach. He referenced how competitive Brock is and how close their games have been even last season. 

“Us being able to see them this early will show us where we’re at in terms of moving forward,” he added. Peters called it a “good place to be at.” 

Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics

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