John Gaudes, Bisons Communications
With a big venue came a competitive match, as the Manitoba Bisons and Winnipeg Wesmen battled for 67 scoreless minutes at Investors Group Field. The Bisons, though, were the first to score — and held that 1-0 lead to a win on Saturday.
The win improves the Bisons record to 4-4-2, as they sit in fourth in the Canada West Prairie division. Winnipeg falls to 0-6-4 with the loss, in sixth place.
Manitoba's lone goal came off the foot of Hailey Lavarias in the 67th minute, her second goal of the season. The assist went to Amanda Wong, as the senior midfielder is now tied for the team lead in points with five.
"It was a magic play, I think. We were talking about needing to be patient and win the midfield, and that's exactly how it happened," said Bisons head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas.
From the outset, both teams developed scoring changes on a cold, cloudy day at the stadium. Winnipeg dominated possession early, earning three corners in the first four minutes. Their first scoring chance came from Shae-Lynn Dodds, who put a header shot on in the tenth, but was stopped by Bisons keeper Madison Wilford.
Winnipeg also got a shot on in the 14th, as Maeghan Lindsay was also saved by Wilford.
The Herd turned momentum back, though, as two near-chances in the 26th were intercepted by Madison Fordyce. Then, on the last play of the half, Bruna Mavignier put a header right on, but Fordyce was again up to the task.
The second half was more strategic for both sides, leading up to the Lavarias goal in the 67th minute. A cross was controlled by Wong at the top of the box, who deftly kicked it on to an open Lavarias on the right side, who finished with the goal.
Afterward, the Bisons executed a strategy of tight defensive pressure, as the Wesmen were unable to develop scoring chances in the Manitoba end.
"[The defence] was amazing. Winnipeg has the top goal scorer in the conference, Shae-Lynn Dodds, and I think our defence did a fantastic job keeping her under control," said Martinez Lagunas.
The win also gives Manitoba the early leg up in the 28th annual Duckworth Challenge, an annual competition between the cross-town rival Bisons and Wesmen. A five-part series, the Challenge is based on league game results in women's soccer, basketball, and volleyball.
"Just playing in this venue is a dream come true," said Martinez Lagunas. "You have no idea how excited [the players] were, many of them couldn't sleep at night just because of the excitement."
Bison women's soccer now heads on the road for matches against the UBC Okanagan Heat (October 13) and Thompson Rivers Wolfpack (October 14). Travelling in a regional pair, Winnipeg will play the same teams on opposite days.