WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Wesmen switched their style up Thursday, but they couldn't find the write combination to knock off their crosstown rivals.
Jessica Tsai struck from just inside the 18-yard box six minutes into the contest to set the Manitoba Bisons women's soccer team off on an eventual 2-0 win over Wesmen in the first leg of the annual two-match city derby.
The teams will meet again Saturday at U of M.
The match was moved indoors to the WSF Soccer North facility after Winnipeg was hit with a winter storm that dropped 10 cm of snow on parts of the city and led to storm warnings from Environment Canada.
Inside, the Wesmen tweaked their formation to try and address some of Manitoba's speed up front. Head coach Amy Anderson said she felt like her team managed that and had its opportunities in counter.
"From what we took from practices, I think we did deal with their speed," Anderson said. "We dropped back and we had opportunities, and I think it could have been different if we had capitalized on our opportunities. U of M came in here and they've been on form (lately) and I think it proved that we can play against anyone.
"We've just got to keep pushing our girls because we always knew it would come down to the last few weekends."
Nicole Davis added the Bisons (5-5-1) other goal in the 32nd minute when a bit of negligent coverage inside the Wesmen box left Clark available to put an insurance goal past Winnipeg keeper Taryn Raabe.
Raabe, who has started all 11 games thus far for the Wesmen (1-10-0), made six saves in defeat. Raabe now has 90 saves on the season to lead the Canada West.
"I think our team did a very good job, especially in the first half, of setting the tempo of the game, and finding the gaps to score the goals," Bisons head coach Vanessa Martinez Lagunas said. "Scoring early was very important to us and then we also took advantage of a set piece, so that was very positive. We could have been more lethal, I think, and taken more advantage of our scoring chances."
Alexis Anderson made four saves for the win.
The Wesmen are still in position to potentially qualify for the post-season with three matches to play. They'll play the Bisons indoors Saturday at U of M, then host the Lethbridge Pronghorns and Mount Royal Cougars to close the season at home in a week's time. They currently sit two points back of the Pronghorns for the sixth and final playoff spot in the division.
The match also stood as the first portion of the season-long Duckworth Challenge, which pits the two schools in a cumulative contest across soccer, basketball and volleyball. The Wesmen have won the overall Challenge the past two years, but the Bisons have garnered the early edge for 2019-20.
Nicole Redekopp of the Wesmen and Gabrielle Clark of the Bisons were named their team's respective MVPs of the match.