After attending two training sessions and a few practices per week, the UTM Varsity soccer girls were prepared and determined about their long-awaited Regionals Soccer Tournament on Monday, March 6 in London, Ontario. The bus departed at 6:30 a.m. and took them to their first game: a 9:30 a.m. match against Fanshawe College—a team who had defeated UTM at last year’s Regionals in Woodbridge.
During the warm-up to the Fanshawe match, UTM’s goalie, Nida Zaidi, sustained an ankle injury and was unable to play in the tournament. Noor Aldoori took her place. From the moment the first whistle blew until the end of the game, UTM fought hard, with only a brief hiccup along the way. The first goal was scored by one of UTM’s quickest players, Katie Flannigan. Shortly after, Danica Post scored to give UTM a two-goal lead. Third-year defender Jayde Forde assisted post on an ideally-placed cross-pass. UTM was able to keep the lead, but suffered a minor breakdown in the last five minutes, causing Fanshawe to make it on the scoreboard. However, UTM executed their strong defensive strategy and kept their composure for the remainder of the game—leading them to overcome Fanshawe, 2-1.
The second game of the day was against Mohawk College. The girls came out strong, which put them into a 1-0 lead shortly into the game. The goal was scored by team captain Christina Rico on a left-footed shot. Still in the first half, UTM got the second goal by Vanessa Cesario on a scramble in front of the net. UTM was stable, but began to break down near the end of the first half, leading Mohawk to score the first goal. Fatigue was starting to set in after the half, and Mohawk took the game 3-2.
The women’s final game was against Georgian College. Rookie player Kayla Rice scored the only goal of the game; her shot took a deflection off a Georgian player and went directly into the net, leading her team to a 1-0 win.
After the match, the girls waited for news of their placement in the tournament—the top two teams would advance to Provincials. There was a three-way tie between UTM, Fanshawe, and Mohawk, which led to the officials being forced to follow the tie-breaker rules. According to the tournament rules, first place is awarded to the team with the best goal differential. Fanshawe took the win, and UTM and Mohawk were left to wait for the results of who would finish in second.
Tournament rules state that the tie-breaker would switch to a “head to head.” This meant that though UTM had a better goal differential, Mohawk would advance due to their win over UTM.
The level of commitment put in by the UTM girls’ soccer team and their coaching staff brought them to victory in two of their three games. Though tournament regulations awarded wins to Mohawk and Fanshawe, UTM plans to return next year with more perseverance and determination.