WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Wesmen knew they were going to be in tough against the nation's No. 1-ranked team. A pair of own goals didn't help make things any easier.
The Wesmen women's soccer team was on the bad end of two unfortunate bounces in the first 19 minutes of play and dropped a 3-0 Canada West conference decision to the Trinity Western Spartans Saturday night at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex.
Own goals in the ninth and 19th minutes put the Wesmen on their heels in a match in which they knew they'd have to be in top form to get a result. The Spartans improved to 4-0-0 on the season and remained one of only two Canada West teams with spotless records.
Amy Gartke scored her second goal of the season in the 39th minute to round out the scoring for the night.
The Wesmen, meanwhile, fell to 0-2-2 and failed to score a goal for the first time in seven outings this season, including three non-conference matches.
The Wesmen scored nine goals all of last season and have already managed five through four conference games.
"We could have easily sat back in our own half and not attacked at all," Wesmen head coach Amy Anderson said. "We defended, but we also attacked when we could, and we actually created a few opportunities to score, so I liked the fact that we were fearless when we had the ball and we went for it."
Trinity Western head coach Graham Roxburgh said he anticipated a Winnipeg side focused on playing defensively-minded, similar to what confronted the Spartans a night before in a 1-0 win at Manitoba.
"We thought they would drop off a little bit and try to protect the space and make it compact, which they did," Roxburgh said. "We were a bit fortunate to get in on that early goal and that probably changed the complexion. We have some good pace out on the flanks and that generated three or four chances, which led to our second goal, so in the end I'm really pleased."
A night after making two saves in recording her first clean sheet of the season, TWU keeper Rachel Sydor made four saves for another shutout.
Madison Fordyce made eight saves in Winnipeg's goal and was relieved in the 82nd minute by Emma Dutiaume, who made two stops in her first appearance of the conference season.
"Coming into the second half, it was our goal that we didn't want to concede anymore goals, try to get some for ourselves and we accomplished that," Fordyce said. "(The own goals) did change the complexion of the game, but we fought back from it.
"You can definitely tell that they're a very composed team, they're very disciplined. They can see runs that we couldn't tell were coming. It's just a matter of they know how to play with each other extremely well and it just caught us off balance a bit."
Roxburgh was equally effusive in his praise for a still-developing Winnipeg squad.
"Credit to Winnipeg, they never quit," he said. "That could have ended with one or two more goals our way, but they defended really well. I though their keeper was good and they were a bit dangerous on the break. Amy's doing a great job."
The Wesmen stay at home next weekend with a Saturday match against Calgary and a Sunday meeting with Lethbridge.
The Spartans return home to face Macewan and UBC.