After having lost only one game this season, the UTM women’s Division 1 soccer team went downtown on Saturday to play for the championship title.
This game marked the first faceoff between UTM and Scarborough this season, as the regular season matchup between the two teams was cancelled due to poor weather and field conditions.
Saturday’s weather was chilly and the girls were glad to be playing safely away from the wind in the dome of Varsity Stadium, a substantial change from playing on a regular field. Nonetheless, the girls were prepared for the conditions, warmed up and pumped to play by the time the referee blew the whistle.
UTM coach Robert Brown’s pregame speech was very encouraging; he let the girls know he had confidence in them. “Take a deep breath. Now calm your nerves,” he said. “Go out there and play the game you know.”
The Eagles exploded into the first half like they had been shot out of a cannon; the girls were quick with the ball and aggressive on defence. But their nerves showed as they made a few technical errors, resulting in a goal from Scarborough early in the game. The girls didn’t let that first goal get them down, and came back a few minutes later to score a goal from Diane Fric’s corner kick. Jen Soehner headed the ball and it hit the post, but then Dee Dee Spagnuolo rebounded Soehner’s ball into the net. The goal was met by cheers from the small crowd of the UTM players’ friends and family members who had come downtown to watch the game.
UTM controlled the game for the remainder of the half and stopped Scarborough from netting another goal. UTM’s goalie, Christy Simbeya, played very well, stopping a number of shots from Scarborough players, and even coming out of the net to get the ball from Scarborough’s forwards, who were trying to advance. The first half ended with a 1–1 tie, and the girls were greeted with high-fives from their beloved mascot, the Eagle, as they came off the field.
In the second half, it was Scarborough’s turn to start off strong, and they came out hungry for another goal. They were rewarded for their efforts in the middle of the half when the ball bounced over Simbeya and into UTM’s net. The Eagles were frustrated at not having stopped the ball, and also with the calls the referee was making. Scarborough took advantage of the Eagles’ distraction and scored another goal, making the score 3–1. UTM held control of the ball and had a number of opportunities for the rest of the half, but was unable to score a second goal. When the referee blew the whistle at the end of the game, the Scarborough players and coaches ran onto the field, while the UTM players trudged off before going to shake hands.
The Eagles were disappointed, but during the postgame huddle, Brown told the girls they needed to put the game behind them and look forward to the indoor soccer season.
“Our girls played with heart, but I guess it just wasn’t enough to take the win,” said Sheri Veibl, a second-year UTM centre midfielder, after the game. “We still have the chance to beat them in indoor.”
There will be tryouts for the girls’ indoor soccer team in January. More information on this team and others can be found on the RAWC website or by stopping by the program office at the gym.