By Daniel Pagan
What happens when a Dino is matched up against a Panda? The Panda gets mauled as evidenced by the University of Calgary Dinos 3-1 win over the University of Alberta Pandas at Foote Field on Sunday.
It was their first victory over the Pandas since the 2003-04 season, giving the Dinos a 1-5 record.
The win comes off the heels of a 2-1 loss against the Pandas a day ealier.
Head coach Jenn Swagar was excited about the Dinos first victory this season, pinning it on a new team chemistry.
“Instead of five or six players giving 100 per cent themselves, all 16 players did and that was a big change in our chemistry as a team,” said Swagar. “I’m proud of them.”
Facing off on a chilly Saturday, the Pandas and Dinos matched strength and struggled to find a hole in their respective defence until Pandas player Polly Duncan-Webb scored a goal when she deflected a shot on a short corner play.
Their Pandas followed that up with a rebound behind Dinos keeper Megan Lee. After the break the Dinos focused on keeping the Pandas offence at bay.
The efforts were rewarded when midfielder Courtney Campbell shot the ball into the Panda net off a short corner.
Swagar said the team is getting better on defence as displayed in the close 2-1 defeat Saturday.
She added the umpires made some errors in their judgment, causing the Pandas goals.
“The umpires’ decisions are unfortunate and that really hurt us,” said Swagar.
On Sunday, the Dinos were looking to avenge their defeat and they did just that.
The Dinos and Pandas traded possessions until the Pandas scored with a shot off a corner play. Pandas midfielder Erin Mason used her experience and speed to fight through the defence.
The Dinos were able to even the odds when forward Katilin Longworth scored on a breakaway.
After that, the Dinos gained momentum and overpowered the Pandas.
In the second half, Campbell fired a low shot to the top of the Pandas net, flying over the head of goalie Lili Zhang in the 56th minute. Longworth was able to finish off the Pandas– she zoomed around Zhang to fire the ball into an empty net.
The improved offence pleased Swagar, especially after a practice strategy of strong defence and minimizing turnovers.
“We worked all week long on offensive postures and it really shows and we had a lot less focused errors, which evens the play,” said Swagar.
She credited Dinos goalie Stephanie Petrowitsch for holding the defence together through the weekend, as she is learning more about taking charge of the defence and helping the defenders with their positions.
With the loss, the Pandas drop to 2-4. Both the Dinos and the Pandas have four more games to go. Alberta faces off against the University of Victoria Vikes while the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds pay a visit to Hawkings Field.
Swagar predicts a tough challenge next weekend when the Dinos face off against the Thunderbirds once again. The Dinos will look to exploit key weak points on the Thunderbirds team.
“They are not as fit or fast as us and we have a lot of one and two year players who are amazing and our veterans add that bit of vision,” said Swagar. “Tactically, we can take them on since they have some issues with changes, so we will see if we can impose some changes and make them commit some mistakes.”