The Saskatchewan Huskies held a lead for 87 minutes, but saw it slip away late, as freshman Sarah Zuccaro's first career Canada West goal helped the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves to a 2-2 draw on Sunday, September 16th, 2018.
The Huskies got out to a fast start when a defensive breakdown in the Timberwolves end led to a clear cut breakaway for Cassidy Hayward. She made no mistake, beating TWolves keeper Madi Doyle, giving the visitors an early 1-nil lead.
Saskatchewan dictated much of the play for the rest of half, despite the best efforts of UNBC forwards Sofia Jones and Paige Payne. In the 34th minute, after a scramble in front of the Timberwolves net, the ball found its way to Taneil Gay, who scored her first of the campaign on an assist from Payton Izsak.
Timberwolves coach Neil Sedgwick went to his bench in the second half with a number of substitutions, including first year's Sarah Zuccaro and Kyra Wallace, and sophomores Kaitlyn Chojnacki, Mikaela Cadorette, and Sonja Neitsch. The youngsters implemented their coach's strategies, and held the Huskies off the sheet.
"We changed our formation quite a bit, and it was quite strange, to be honest," said Zuccaro postgame. "We have players who were defenders, but also strikers, and it worked. It worked very well."
In the 85th minute, Neitsch streaked down the right side and tried to find a teammate in the box. A Saskatchewan defender, looking to get the ball out of harm's way, inadvertently kicked the ball past her own keeper, Jadyn Steinhauer, giving Neitsch her first career Canada West goal, and making it a 2-1 contest with five minutes to play.
"I think we turned it off, mentally," said Saskatchewan's Jackson Wiegers, postgame. "The intensity was really good for 80 minutes, but the last ten minutes they took advantage."
Four minutes later, off a corner kick, Paige Payne sent the ball far post where it found the hip of Zuccaro. The native of Nanaimo watched it trickle over the line, knotting the game and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
"I didn't know if it was going to make it to me," said Zuccaro. "I just wanted to put anything on it and hope it went in, and it worked out."
In extra time, both teams had opportunities, but neither were able to put anything on the board. With the 2-2 tie, the TWolves move to 1-1-2 on the campaign, while the Huskies play to their fourth draw in four games, sitting 0-0-4.
"There were definitely positives. We were a good team for 80 minutes, but you can't win a good game if you're a good team for only 80," said Wiegers. "It is the most frustrating thing in the world, but we are a young team and we just have to take this as a learning experience."
"We can come back from anything, and stay up in any situation," said Zuccaro. "We can get a point or three points in any chance we are given. We have a lot of players who are not afraid to shoot, and I think this is a big improvement for us."