Humberside pushes Leaside until the end

BRACE FOR IMPACT: Humberside’s Kelsey Watts gets ready to block Lancers Christine Phillips’ clearing pass.

With her hands splayed across her forehead, Humberside Huskies’ Mandy Hsieh couldn’t believe she missed a game-tying goal in girls South Region soccer finals May 17.

It was the turning point of a hard-fought match as the Huskies lost the South Region finals to Leaside Lancers 2-0.

Still, Humberside coach Joanne Loewen said her charges were hungry to make Alpo out of Leaside.

“I just saw them putting it all out there,” she said. “Every time the ball got near them they were just, ‘I have to get that ball, I have to get that ball’.

“I have my senior players and I could just see it in their eyes,” she said. “They knew that this was probably their last game.”

Fighting hard in Leaside’s zone was team captain Erin Johnston, who made several attempts to cross the ball in front of Lancers’ netminder Melissa Alvarado to fellow strikers Hsieh and Kia Knights.

The Lancers advantage came early in first half when, for a brief moment, the Huskies fell asleep on defence.

Lethal weapon Stephanie Petsis surged through an open seam and was fed by Naomi Boshari, leaving no chance for Humberside’s goalie Alison Parker.

A Huskies arsenal was then unleashed on the Lancers, who at times wielded a laissez-faire attitude on the field, compared to their fiery High Park opponents.

After a few scares with Petsis attacking for Leaside, a break came for Humberside when a handball in Lancers penalty territory, leading to Hsieh’s penalty kick.

When she went high and to the right of Alvarado, Leaside’s coaches Chris Ujimoto and Patty Bontis breathed a sigh of relief.

“That was the turning point of the game. If they had scored, it could’ve been 1-1,” Ujimoto said.

Bontis added the wind played a key role in the missed kick, pushing the ball wide.

The result was a loss of mush from the Huskies, as the Lancers penetrated deep into their zone and earned themselves a corner kick.

With Petsis on the edge, she found Eva Mastoras in the mad scramble. Mastoras headed the ball past Parker for security.

Unheralded heroes for Leaside were the defensive line, including Christine Phillips, Courtney Price and Anna-Maria Scoulos.

“They put their heart and soul into the game,” Bontis said. “Some of them were even injured and they played.”

As for Hsieh’s missed opportunity, Loewen has no regrets putting her star under pressure.

“You hate to put a player in that situation but she scored all our goals this year and I figured she was the best person to put in that situation,” she said. “I hope she doesn’t take it too personally because it is a team game.

“It’s not her fault we didn’t tie the game up — that’s the hard part.”

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