THE GEE-GEES WOMEN’S soccer team faced their cross-town rivals in the home opener at Matt Anthony Field on Sept. 14. Going into the game, the Gees trailed the Carleton Ravens, ranking fifth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) East standings while the Ravens held fourth. The game was key; not only did the Gees have a 16-year winning streak against Carleton to defend, but they were also playing without head coach Steve Johnson, who was absent due to his father’s death.
The Gees had multiple opportunities to score, keeping the home crowd excited with every shot, and tense with every miss. At the 30-minute mark, second-year Gee-Gees forward Elisabeth Wong broke away from Carleton’s defence. Ravens goalkeeper Rachel Bedek made an impressive save, but couldn’t hold on to the ball. Wong went for her own rebound and buried the ball into the back of the net, scoring the first goal of the game.
“It’s all about timing,” explained Gees assistant coach Stuart Barbour. “[The Ravens] were organized and efficient, and we just [have to] learn from that to be a little sharper.”
Despite provoking whistles for seven offside calls during the first half, the Garnet and Grey were dominant in the Ravens’ half of the field, managing to get just as many shots on the Ravens goalkeeper Rachel Bedek as offside calls.
Barbour admitted the number of offside calls could have been a problem for the Gees, but was impressed with their ability to overcome the Ravens’ starting line.
“When a team plays a good offside trap, it’s a little frustrating,” said Barbour. “We said to the players at half, ‘Just don’t get frustrated, keep trying it.’”
“There were [fewer] offsides in the second half. We made some adjustments, trying to get midfielders to run through and forwards to come back, trying to create a little interchange and they did it.”
The second half saw the Gees tighten up their offence, controlling the play and limiting the offside calls against them to two. With 25 minutes left to play, third-year forward Sarah De Carufel scored the game-sealing goal, taking advantage of the Gees’ dominance and her own speed to rush past the Ravens’ defenders.
“We came in [to] the game knowing that [offside calls were] going to be one of the challenges,” said Wong. “[We had] to see it happen, get used to it, and adjust. I do think we got better in the second half.”
The team was especially happy with their momentum from the win, something they hope to carry into a weekend on the road. But most importantly, the Gees were proud to have honoured Johnson with the win. Despite the head coach’s absence, the team recognized his importance and paid tribute to the passing of Johnson’s father by wearing black armbands on the field.
“[Johnson has] done so much for this program over the years, from its inception when it was a club team and getting the university to turn it into a varsity program, and he’s just put so much into it,” said Barbour. “He hasn’t missed a game or a practice in all those years, and the girls here know that and they respect that.”
Fourth-year defender Gillian Baggott echoed Barbour’s sentiments.
“Steve is an awesome coach and he was there in spirit. We have great assistant coaches that stepped up, and all of our team came together as a unit and worked together, thinking of him the whole time,” she said. “[We] played for him.”
The Gees also played Nipissing, winning 6-0 on Sept. 17, and Laurentian on Sept. 18, losing 1-0. Their next home game is against RMC on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.