Photo by Kyle West
By Lucas Uggenti
A regular season that saw many highs and lows for the McMaster men’s soccer team is nearing an end, concluding yet another mediocre year in which the talented group finished third in their conference. This has grown to become a bit of a disappointment as the group has set expectations much higher than where they finished.
For a second-straight year, McMaster has finished third, a few points out of the top spot, which was somewhere the team believed they deserved to be. Ultimately, the team’s goal is an Ontario University Athletics championship, which would give them a berth into the national U Sports tournament.
This goal is still not out of the question, but McMaster will need to find a way to beat the inconsistent bug that has plagued the team for much of the season. Inconsistency has been the team’s Achilles’ heel early on in the season, but the Marauders have found ways to survive in games, squeaking out big points when necessary. This has come much to the chagrin of head coach Dino Perri.
“It was a pretty inconsistent season,” said Perri. “Because we had a young team, we were able to compete with the best in the league, while also dropping points to teams at the bottom of the table. That’s inconsistency.”
McMaster started the season off hot, winning their first three games, outscoring their opponents 8-2 during that stretch. Unfortunately, the Marauders hit a bump in the road only managing to muster five points out of possible 18 in their next six matches; they went 1-3-2 in that stretch.
“Our biggest strength is that we are a team,” Perri said. “There are many individuals on this roster that are capable of stepping up into the spotlight and playing well. Although we have good depth, consistency is something we lack, which hurts us.”
Hoping to play to their strengths as a team and build off of some bad performances, something sparked the Marauders as they found new life late in the season.
Following an inspired 1-1 draw against the defending champions, the York University Lions, McMaster then went on a tear, winning five of their next six games, including a 2-2 tie with the Wilfred Laurier University Golden Hawks.
This could not have come at a better time for McMaster, as the OUA playoffs are right around the corner. The Marauders’ expectations remain as high as they once were, accepting nothing less than a championship.
“Hopefully, we learned from our mistakes throughout the course of the season and build off this little hot run we’ve had late,” Perri said. “Anything can happen in the playoffs.”
In their annual season-ending games against the Algoma University Thunderbirds, the Marauders ended their season on a high note with back-to-back wins to finish with a 9-3-4 record. Powered by a Dusan Kovacevic hat-trick, the Marauders won their first game in Sault Ste. Marie in a 5-3 comeback. They followed that performance with a clean sheet, beating the Thunderbirds 6-0 on the back of freshman defender Miles Green’s four goals.
Men’s Soccer — FINAL: Dusan Kovacevic completed a hat trick late, as the Marauders scored three goals in the final five minutes to snatch all three points in Sault Ste. Marie. #GoMacGo pic.twitter.com/Kj0dywrs2a
— McMaster Athletics (@McMasterSports) 20 October 2018
McMaster finished the season in third place in the OUA West division, earning a first-round playoff match up against the University of Waterloo Warriors. This marks the first game of the playoffs for the Marauders, as they hope to forget about their inconsistent season and focus on what their future holds.
McMaster has the talent, the coaching and the right mentality to compete for a championship, and can only really defeat themselves by remaining inconsistent.