DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG — Two goals in short succession late in the second half buried the Winnipeg Wesmen Friday night and ended their playoff hopes in the process.
Kirsten Finley, in the 77th minute, and Sydney Langen, in the 79th, both scored their first goals of the season and the Regina Cougars eliminated the Wesmen women's soccer team from playoff contention in a 2-0 Canada West conference decision at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex.
With winds gusting to 51 km/h accompanied by hail at kickoff, the Wesmen were unable to take advantage of a wind-aided first half despite carrying the bulk of the play.
Shae-Lynn Dodds, who leads the team with seven goals, was narrowly wide on a first-half break and the Wesmen were hovering around the Regina net for much of the half yet struggled to get quality shots on target.
Winnipeg went into the night trailing Regina by three points in the Prairie Division and knowing a win would put it firmly in the post-season discussion.
Instead, the Wesmen (0-9-4) will now close out their season Saturday with pride on the line still seeking their first win of the season in a 7 p.m. kickoff against the Saskatchewan Huskies.
"We started off strong. It was one of our strongest starts," Wesmen head coach Amy Anderson said. "And I thought we had a lot of the momentum, but we didn't capitalize on opportunities we had.
"(Saturday) is important for our program and our dignity. We've had a challenging season mentally. I'm proud of the girls for getting up for this game. All week we tried to prepare them as best as possible and we knew coaches we'd have opportunities by pressing them, so it's a shame we couldn't capitalize on that."
The Cougars (3-9-1) managed to navigate the first half into the wind and bided their time until the advantage shifted their way in the second.
"We talked at half that we needed a good 45 minutes, we knew we needed to get three points today and to just stick with what we were doing because we were generating, I felt, some good opportunities," Regina head coach Bob Maltman said. "We were able to get one and then, as so often happens, when you're defending and you're resolute that you get one in against you it's a little tougher, so the second one was good for us."
Madison Fordyce continued to add to her Canada West-leading saves total with another 11 saves Friday. Kylie Bolton needed to make just three for the clean sheet in the Regina goal.
Regina will play Manitoba in the final conference match of the season for both teams.