On Friday Sept. 16, the Brock women’s and men’s soccer teams kicked off a two-game series against the University of Waterloo Warriors.
The women had started off the season strong with two wins and a tie — including two clean sheets and a convincing 5-1 affair over Algoma University — but had dropped both matches against University of Windsor in tight 1-0 contests last weekend.
Against Waterloo, they were looking to get back in the win column and start the weekend on a high note.
“We were just trying to instill that confidence in the girls,” said head coach Carli Tingstad. “Even in those two losses I felt like we created enough chances to win, so just trying to get them to keep at it and keep creating those chances.”
Those chances appeared early on for Brock. Defender Emily Cirone struck first at 14:32 to give the badgers an early lead. Brock would go on to out-chance Waterloo 12-3 in the first half, including seven shots on target.
Holding onto the 1-0 lead, the Badgers began the second half mostly in their own half, though not allowing any significant dribble or passing penetration from the opposition. Around a quarter of the way into the half, Brock’s pace picked up and that is where the tide seemed to shift.
Forward Annie Thivierge made some great passes on the counterattack, including one in the 63rd minute to find Forward Sabrina Bisante on the run who forced the keeper to make a nice save.
Bisante had been knocking on the door the whole second half and was rewarded less than 4 minutes later. Off a beautiful short pass by Midfielder Juliana Andoina, the forward put the Badgers up 2-0.
Bisante would collect another goal in the 77th minute, picking up a pass in the midfield, getting clear of the defenders, and showing nice patience to dribble around Waterloo’s goalie and deposit it in the back of the net.
Waterloo’s only real chance would come in the 86th when Brock was already sitting back, protecting their firm lead. Brock would go on to lead 22 attempts to 5, with 16 on target.
“We have a lot of speed up front, so we were just working on trying to exploit that space for our players,” said Carli Tingstad after the game. “We did a fantastic job of getting in behind but also on the press. We put them under a lot of pressure, they made some mistakes and we capitalized.”
The biggest change however, thought Coach Tingstad, came on the defensive end.
“We made a tactical change defensively that I think helped us out. We actually scored two goals off of it in the second half, so we’ll probably look to start the game like that on Sunday and hopefully pick up right where we finished off.”
The women travel to Waterloo on Sunday to finish their series at 2:15 p.m.
The men’s team has come out to a roaring start, winning all their matches and boasting two clean sheets.
“The guys really bought in,” said head coach Aleks Balta when asked about the key to their season so far. “We’ve got a good group; they work together as a unit, number one; number two, not only working but they fight for each other, and because of their work-rate and their family-atmosphere…I think that’s the reason they’ve started out well.”
Coach Balta also expected a challenge from the get-go.
“I expect a really hard fight, probably our toughest match. Not to take anything away from Windsor, but physically probably our toughest match to date.”
Balta’s prediction soon came true. The first play of the match was a hard foul by Waterloo against the Brock ball carrier.
Waterloo pressed hard and had the only shot of the first 15. A chance by Brock and a defensive play off the subsequent corner put Waterloo on the counterattack, forcing goalie Taylor Miskolczi to make an excellent save.
Brock made a few costly turnovers in their own end, resulting in chances and corners, but no goals for Waterloo.
After a physical first 30 with hard tackles from both sides, the Badgers seemed to settle in.
Brock had a great opportunity in the 39th, but no one could quite get to the cross.
Midfielder Jacob Geyer followed that up with another close call with less than a minute to go in the half but missed right.
After a scoreless first half, the physicality ramped up even more. There were a number of fouls on both sides, including two yellow cards for Waterloo.
Brock had a shot blocked and a corner in the final minute in a half where they picked up the attacking pressure, out-chancing Waterloo 5-2, but couldn’t score. The match ended in a scoreless draw for the still undefeated Badgers.
“We want to become more attacking-minded week-by-week and improve in that area,” said Coach Balta. “Each game I can say we’ve progressed with what we’re able to do with the ball, and we’re still hoping to be able to continue to grow there.”
The men will hope to keep the streak alive Sunday Sept. 18, when they play in Waterloo at noon. Both the men’s and women’s teams next play at home on Sept. 25 against Western University. The full season schedules can be found on the OUA’s website.