Coming off a pair of poor outings against Windsor and Guelph, the McMaster men’s soccer team desperately needed to get their season back on track with some wins in last weekend’s double-header.
All that stood in their way were the UOIT Ridgebacks and the CIS leading York Lions.
The Lions are undoubtedly the class of the OUA. Coming into the game the Lions (9-1-0) averaged an OUA best 3.8 goals scored per game while allowing only 0.5 goals per game. Their only blemish came on Sept. 13 when they dropped a hotly contested 1-0 match to the Marauders.
On the other hand, the Marauders were in a tailspin. In their previous match against the Guelph Gryphons, McMaster spent the majority of the game backpedaling on defense, rather than striking on offense. A couple of lucky bounces resulted in the game ending in a 2-2 draw, but the Marauders were far from top form.
York came out firing in the first half of Saturday’s match. The Lions outshot the Marauders 8-2 in the half, but goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo stood tall and kept York off the score sheet. McMaster netted its lone goal in the 44th minute off a fortuitous own-goal by York’s Arthur Casupanan.
With the slim lead in hand, McMaster tightened its defense in the second half. The extra emphasis on defense worked as York only managed 6 shots in the second frame. Cavalluzzo stopped all 8 shots on target as McMaster escaped with a 1-0 victory, handing the Lions their first home loss since 2009.
“It’s been just an all-around defensive effort by our team, communication and hard work were big keys to our success,” said co-captain Patterson Farrell.
“Everyone is on the same page and knows what was needed to be done,” Farrell added.
Good goaltending was an important factor in McMaster’s victory against the Lions and Cavalluzzo’s efforts in the win were commended by teammates.
“When you have a goalie as good as Ang, you’re already put in a great position to win games,” said Farrell of Cavalluzzo’s work against York.
“At times when we haven’t been playing our best he’s been there to make some big saves to keep us in games,” Farrell added.
They followed up their win against York with a victory over the UOIT Ridgebacks on Sunday. Gersi Xhuti and Nate Morris netted a goal apiece as the Marauders cruised to an easy 3-0 decision. They currently sit fourth in the OUA with 26 points (8-2-2) and are within striking distance of the top-ranked OUA contenders, which includes Guelph, Ryerson and York.
At times the Marauders have looked dominant, but they’ve also shown the propensity to flounder.
Head Coach Dino Perri said that is was all about finding consistency.
“We have a few weeks left to find that consistency,” said Perri.
“If we can play consistently on both offence and defense, then I would say our chances [in the playoffs] will be quite good”.
Coach Perri believes that when the Marauders are playing at their best, the team can go toe-to-toe with any competitor in the country.
“The reality is that we are two time defending OUA champions so our expectation is to be able to compete with and beat anyone at anytime,” said Perri of his squad.
Perri knows that in order to win, the team must play with consistency and both create and finish quality scoring opportunities while limiting their opponents chances to score. It’s all about better decision making on the field.