Big Win Confirms Second-Seed And Date With Pilots In Conference Semis
Goals from Camille Plett, Marijka Yaschyshyn and rookie striker Susanna Derksen lifted Women's Soccer to a 3-1 win versus the Red River Rebels on Sunday afternoon, confirming their place in the conference Final Four and holding off the Rebels and Providence Pilots who were threatening to leap over the Blazers in the conference standings.
Plett's goal was another tally to add to a record-setting season that has seen the fifth-year midfielder top her 2017 regular season goal count of 12. Plett scored her 12th and 13th goal of the 2018 season on October 13th in a 4-1 win over USB and was able to add one more to her new CMU Women's Soccer record in Sunday's win at Red River. Plett's new mark of 14 goals scored in a regular season will stand in the program's record book for future players to aim towards.
For Derksen, who has been sidelined for most of the regular season with an injury, returned to the lineup and scored the third CMU goal in Sunday's win, a picture of individual effort, and her first goal scored in the MCAC. In the 79th minute, fellow first-year Tiegan Kroeker's pass led Derksen towards goal. The Kelvin High School graduate managed to hold off a Rebels defender and get a strong shot on target. Though her effort was initially turned aside by the Red River goalkeeper, relentlessly Derksen stayed with the play, managing to extend herself and get her head on the loose ball, directing it back towards the Rebels goal to give her team a two-goal lead.
Strangely, Sunday's three points-earned brings the Blazers to a record of 4-4-2 for 16 points in the 2018 regular season - exactly the same record and total achieved by Women's Soccer in the 2017 regular season. Where the improvement lies for CMU is in the consistency of their play. In 2017, the Blazers began the season with 6 clean sheets and saw their performance decline during the final weeks of October. In the current season, the Blazers were solid in September and have not seen any fall off in results during the October schedule. CMU has taken 10 of a possible 15 points this month and boasts a record of 3-1-1.
"This team is not only dedicated to improving as players but are also dedicated to each other," said team captain Yaschyshyn. "We all challenge each other and help each other become better players and are able to adapt to different styles of play that fosters success in our teammates. This team is special in regard to this and makes us, as a group, much more of a threat."
On Saturday, CMU will be tackled by the third-place Providence Pilots who sit just below the Blazers in the standings with a 4-3-3 record. Head coaches Lianna Bestvater and Cara Isaak believe a focus for their team will simply be "getting through the game" as one of the Pilot's strengths and weaknesses has been their ability to play a very physical style.
"We will definitely need to be aware of what's going on around us so that we can move the ball quickly and escape their challenges and tackles." said the CMU coaches in their 'keys to the game.' The Pilots led all MCAC Women's Soccer programs in yellow cards in 2018, amassing 8 cautions and one dismissal. "It's something we really need to be aware of and prepared for if we want to beat Providence and advance to Sunday's final."
In their two previous meetings with the Pilots, CMU recorded a 4-1 away win on September 16th and played to a 0-0 scoreless draw last Saturday. In this weekend's other semi, the first-place Brandon Bobcats will look to advance to the Championship Final with a win over #4 Red River who return to the Final Four after finishing fifth in 2017. The Bobcats finished fourth last season but after upsetting the Pilots in a penalty shootout, went on to win their first MCAC Women's Soccer Championship by defeating USB.
Saturday's semfinals will take place at Winnipeg's Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex with both women's matches kicking off at noon.