Kicking off matchweek five of the 2016 League1 Ontario season, the 2015 League1 Ontario women's champs Durham United FA had their official trophy presentation before the major attraction of powerhouse teams Durham vs Woodbridge at Kinsmen Park, Pickering.
With very little between these two powerhouse teams, a 2-2 draw was a fitting outcome.
"Given it is Durham's ground and today's match included the presentation of last year's trophy etc., it actually looked like we might have been the long underdogs," said Woodbridge team official, Cesare Tripodo.
"Durham has an extremely good team, and play very well, but I think our team rose to the occasion and gave them a run for their money."
"We've been playing on turf and lot and the ball moves a bit slower on the grass here today, we like to play fast," said Ron Clarke, Durham head coach. "I think that hurt us mentally at first, but we fought back in the second half and did some really good things but weren't able to hang on for the three points."
"We'll take the one point and move on."
Christabel Oduro (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The midfield battle commenced immediately, with April Symes for Woodbridge taking no prisoners in the middle and along with her teammate Alyscha Mottershead distributing well to the forwards.
Despite this pressure, their Durham counterparts of Kayla De Souza, Taylor Potts and Laura Gosse were primarily focused with threading the ball through for the movement of forwards Simmons, Winterink and Babut.
First blood went to Woodbridge as Mottershead opened up the defence with a diagonal to Lisa Pecheresky, whose shot careened off the post directly to forward Christabel Oduro. Oduro (24') made no mistake, roofing the finish.
Both sides looked to rejig positions of their forwards in the early going, trying to find individual mismatches around the pitch.
Durham appeared to have located one, as Woodbridge's defence began to have trouble with the size and physicality of central forward Diara Simmons.
With only ten minutes left in the half, Simmons collected a dangerous cross, brought it down instantly, and laid off to Geneva Winterink (35'), whose one-time shot crept in at near post.
Simmons made her presence felt again minutes later, picking another ball out of the air, spinning on her heel, and knocking an effort off the post.
Geneva Winterink (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Kristine Nason (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The second half picked up with the same level of intensity, with Durham now setting the tempo and Woodbridge willing to find the gaps on the counter.
Strikers' April Syme and Christabel Oduro had the best chances in the early stages, the former sending a free header at back post directly into GK Laura Dougall's arms, and Oduro just inches away several times from receiving through balls and going one v one with the keeper.
Durham's assertiveness would pay off first, as a nice combination between Gosse, Iozzi and Babut led to substitute Kristin Nason (74') finishing well from six yards out.
Any celebrations were quickly put on ice though, as Oduro was found all alone in behind the Durham defence yet again, and this time managed to take it down and have time to pick out her finish. Oduro (78') gave Dougall no chance, slotting low to the GK's left.
Durham's pressure mounted in the latter minutes, the home side desperate to get the winner. Their relentlessness nearly paid off.
Woodbridge GK Taylor Major suffered a dip in focus in the final minutes of play, accidentally dropping the ball on the goal line, but her defence was just able to clear their lines.
"I would say the game was even," concluded Tripodo. "We had our moments in advantage, as did they."
"At the end we fell short because our bench is short - we have a number of players away at the moment - but I'm using that as an excuse. We'll take the result. It was a very good game, and we'll take the tie."
"Disappointing outcome, we always want three points," said Durham's Clarke.