The ball continues to roll for the McMaster men’s soccer team, who took on the Waterloo Warriors on a cold Wednesday night at Ron Joyce Stadium.
Before the game, head coach Dino Perri, sporting a toothy grin, greeted fans and family along the sidelines, taking time to shake hands and converse with proud parents and fans. His team looked confident and relaxed in warm-ups, practicing keep-ups and running through shooting drills.
The Marauders parlayed that confidence into performance on the pitch. They netted a goal in the first minute of the game off a set-piece from 20 feet out, and never looked back.
Mac dominated both ends of the pitch. The defense was stifling, routinely winning challenges and forcing turnovers. The midfielders maintained possession and threaded beautiful through-balls to the strikers which resulted in a number of pretty goals. The half ended 4-0, with goals from Tong Li, Marco Gennaccaro, Karl Bicamumpaka and Paterson Farrell.
In an effort to give the starters a well-deserved breather, coach Perri made wholesale changes at the half, bringing in seven substitutes.
The subs picked up where the starters left off. Gersi Xhuti, former OUA rookie of the year, drilled a powerful left-footed drive into the back of the net in the 46th minute. Kieran Doyle-Davis was sharp in goal as he kept Waterloo off the scoresheet. The game ended 5-0 in favour of the Marauders, who have won their last five matches in a row.
After the game, coach Perri said of the players, “I think we’re just getting a feel for one another. We had a really short pre-season this year and a lot of new guys in starting positions, which takes a while to gel, and now I think we’re starting to come along.”
Coach Perri stressed the importance of their hard-fought 1-0 win over York. “We were looking for an identity before that and facing one of the best teams in the country, and you end up beating and competing with them, that’s a really important thing. That gave the boys a lot of confidence, and now everyone is playing with confidence.”
On Wednesday, September 18, the team showed great chemistry and cohesion. The players did a great job anticipating each other’s positioning and movements, which resulted in the offense being a step ahead of Waterloo’s defense. The Marauders now sit atop the OUA with 16 points to York’s 15.
The Marauders maintained their confidence against the Western Mustangs on Sunday, September 22, but this game was not nearly as easy as the previous one against the Warriors.
The Mustangs knew what they were in for, and covered the Marauders well, making it hard for the maroon and grey to capitalize on opportunities.
This ended up being a trend throughout the game, until Marauders defender Ryan Garnett scored on a free kick in the 65th minute, with a beautiful drive that sailed passed the Mustangs goal-keeper Adam Majer, just under the far post.
The team now turns its attentions to the tough road ahead. As Perri describes, “The true test will be coming up next week, with games coming up against Western, Windsor, Guelph and York. The meat of our schedule is coming up.” If the Marauders want to preserve their winning streak, they will need to show the same quality as they did against Waterloo.
Luckily, they seem to have hit their stride at exactly the right time.