The ball seemed too far away from Algonquin Wolves striker Jordan Blades-McHenry and the Durham goalkeeper was already charging toward it. But Blades-McHenry’s herculean sprint reaped dividends.
With Blades-McHenry’s first shot deflected, the Wolves striker retrieved the ball and scored from a very tight angle. Blades-McHenry’s goal would eventually lead to a hat trick, the top spot in the league’s scoring leaders and a win for the Wolves women’s soccer team on Oct. 15.
The Wolves beat the Durham Lords 3-1 in its last regular season home game.
The Wolves got off to a rocky start. In the third minute, defender Taryn Hutt clattered into an opponent, twisting her ankle so badly she had to be carried off. She appeared later on the sidelines on crutches and would need further tests to determine the extent of the injury.
This rattled the Wolves as the Lords intercepted most of their attempts to push the ball up the field and kept up a strong offence without letting the hosts recover from that initial setback.
But when Blades-McHenry scored her first goal in the 20th minute, it changed the tide of the game.
“Once you get that first ball in the back of the net, you realize you can play to whatever level you’re used to playing at,” she said. “And then we just kept going from there.”
A rejuvenated Wolves fired three more shots on goal in quick succession, and the Durham defence was immediately put to work.
The visitors managed to pull off a move in the 27th minute that required Wolves goalkeeper Dana Schaffner to boldly dive in front of the charging Lords striker to stop the attempt.
But it was the last time the visitors seemed to be in control.
In the 32nd minute, Wolves captain Jolene Wong coordinated a counter-attack and slotted a perfect pass through the Lords’ defense. Blades-McHenry carried the ball past the last defender before shooting it into the back of the net.
After the halftime break, the Wolves continued to pile on the pressure.
In the 61st minute, Blades-McHenry picked up a poor clearance by the Lords and completed her hat trick.
Five minutes after that, Durham converted a contentious penalty from a tackle that resulted in last week’s hat-trick hero Lisa Hartill taking a nasty fall and being substituted before coming back later in the game.
Wolves head coach Basil Phillips was not happy with the officials and believes it was a poor judgment call from the referee. With the Wolves picking up a few more injuries in the game, he didn’t think the officials were calling fouls as they should have.
“The ref did us no favours. There’s no protection for our players at all,” he said. “The fact that we came out with as little injuries is probably a good thing.”
With 14 goals, Blades-McHenry is currently the top scorer in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association this season.
The Wolves are currently in third place in the East division of the OCAA championship with 22 points from 10 games. They will play their first playoff game at home on Oct. 22.