First-half goal stands up for win for Gryphon women

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons rode a goal scored midway through the first half to a 1-0 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks in OUA women’s soccer league play Sunday at the Gryphon Soccer Complex.

“When the scoreline’s 1-nil, you really have to manage the game and I thought the girls really managed the game very well,” Gryphon coach Shayne Campbell said. “That way I was really proud of the girls. That’s not an easy way to close out a 1-0 game because it just takes a moment and it can go away from you. I thought we were good for it, but that moment can go away from you really quick.”

Tori Hinchliffe hit for the goal as she was given just enough space to get a hard shot away to connect for her third goal of the season.

If not for the effort of Laurier goalkeeper Ashley Almeida, the score could have been as high as 5-0 for the hosts as she stopped a few glorious scoring chances for the Gryphs.

“We worked really hard all week to increase the number of chances in the attacking third and I think we did that today,” Campbell said. “Their keeper made some excellent saves and I think she was the player of the game on my opinion on their side. She kept them in it. Otherwise, I think we could’ve got two or three in there.”

Almeida made nine saves in the game and her play actually inspired Gryphon keeper Brooke Davidson.

“It just drives you up and makes you want to do better when you see the other one at the other end doing well like that,” Davidson said. “She had some good saves and you’re just kind of waiting for your moment on our end because it’s coming.”

Davidson was credited with a single save in the game and it came in the final minute or two.

“At the end, there was a ball in the box,” she said. “You’ve got to be on because I didn’t have many shots so it’s hard to stay in the game, but I think her playing that well keeps you in it because it keeps you ready.”

Davidson also credited the defensive play of her teammates for keeping the ball away from the net. While the teams were fairly even in possession time in each other’s zone in the first half, the Golden Hawks couldn’t get the ball through for a scoring chance.

“They just couldn’t get that last ball through,” Davidson said. “Our defenders, they’ve been doing a really good job. Anything coming through, they had everybody covered and just cleared it out.”

They didn’t have much to clear out in the second half as the Gryphs kept the ball in the Laurier for long stretches.

“We tried to make a couple of adjustments and tell the girls to be a bit more patient,” Campbell said. “I thought on a counterattack, they have a couple of quick players up front and they’re very hard to deal with at times. If we weren’t going to command the ball and possess it and sort of maintain that kind of control of the game, that’s when I thought they might have had some advantages on counterattacks. By managing the game a bit more, it would give us a bit more of an opportunity to close that game out.”

For Davidson, it was her first clean sheet of the season and her third in her two seasons with the Gryphs. Davidson and fifth-year Gryphon Libby Brenneman are splitting the goaltending chores this season and both have a win and a tie. Brenneman had shutouts in both of her games.

“I think it’s a real credit to the whole goalkeeping union, Santana (Ferreira) included along with (goalkeeper coach) Don (Ferguson). They have a very good relationship and we’ve always said and we said it at the beginning of the year, it’s amazing what can happen when no one takes the credit. Those three keepers support each other. They do unbelievable things together and you can just see that’s the kind of stuff that’s going to help us to be at our best this year. Libby’s an all-star keeper and not many people would support that as she does. That’s excellent.”

“All of us are good competitive keepers and we just keep making each other better,” Davidson said. “It’s competitive in practice. We’re competitive with each other, but really supportive so that it’s a really good balance. We make each other better and we’re always there giving each other pointers.”

Make no mistake, though, each one would love more playing time.

“Oh, totally,” Davidson said. “That’s just the way it is and we’re just trying to make the best of it and I think it’s working really well so far.”

The Gryphs, McMaster Marauders and Western Mustangs are tied for top spot in the West Division with 2-0-2 records. Brock Badgers are fourth at 2-1-1.

The Gryphs are to play at Brock Saturday at 1 p.m. and host McMaster Sunday at 1 p.m.