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WOMEN’S SOCCER: MRU Cougars hold on to beat Manitoba Bisons

Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics

CALGARY- A late but unthreatening push from the Manitoba Bisons wasn’t enough to mount a comeback against the constructed Mount Royal Cougars Saturday morning as the Cougars pick up their fourth straight victory, holding on to a 2-1 score line at the Mount Royal Stadium Field.

MRU have surpassed their total wins from last season already with half the schedule left to play.

Cougars bench boss Tino Fusco commented after the game on his team’s current success stating, “We got some belief and the players think they can get more, which is really exciting,”

Both teams took the opening quarter of an hour jabbing at each other before the Cougars landed the first blow of the game in the 18th minute.

Natalie De Marco found herself on the edge of the Bison six-yard box and stuck her foot out at the perfect moment to knick a low-driven haul by Erin Holt into the net for her second goal of the season and put her MRU side up one.

Holt’s assist tally rises to four now.

Manitoba settled the pace and began to control their own tempo but couldn’t get much going. 20 minutes after the first marker, Janai Martens doubled the Cougar lead in the 38th minute.

The third-year forward found an empty pocket of space outside of the Bison box. After a scramble has settled, the ball rolled towards Martens who turned on the jets and slotted the ball passed Bison goalkeeper Madison Wilford for her fourth goal on the season.

MRU took a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

Manitoba were struggling to break down a sturdy Cougar defence all game long but their closes chance early in the second half came off an Amanda Wong free-kick that knocked the top of the crossbar and flew out.

The Bison continued their press as it proved more effective than their offensive performance in the first 45 and as a result, cut the MRU lead in half.

A scramble ensued after a corner kick where Alana Shaw was the beneficiary and floated the ball over the head of Cougar keeper Rose Hemans in the 73rd minute.

Manitoba tilted the field in their favour, holding much of the possession late in the game leading into injury time but couldn’t muster any real threatening chance. Hemans was forced to jump off her line and catch a few floaters while her back-line stood firm and kept any dangerous chances from happening.

The Cougar midfield kept playing the ball in the final third, electing not to shoot but rather keep pinging the ball around and hustle back on defence when needed.

MRU held on for the 2-1 win for their fifth on the season.

“Our motto is to take it one game at a time. Today we got the result and we’re going to aim for the same tomorrow.” Fusco concludes.

MRU are set to host the winless Winnipeg Wesmen at the Stadium Field at 1:30 p.m. while the Bisons are concluding their Alberta trip in Edmonton, looking to snap their two game losing skid against the Alberta Pandas at noon.