By: Eamon Hillis
The Marauders began their playoff journey Wednesday Oct. 26 in an Ontario University Athletics preliminary qualifier at home against Windsor. Mac snatched the decisive 4-0 victory from the overmatched Lancers, advancing to challenge Guelph in the quarter finals.
Everything seemed to fall in McMaster’s favour against Windsor. The Lancers entered their Oct. 26 matchup with significant injury struggles, and was not able to send a full roster. Additionally, they acquired two red cards late in the game which opened the door for Mac to seal the win with three quick goals all after the 60th minute.
“It went as well as could be expected,” head coach Dino Perri said of the Windsor game. “We didn’t really have to exert too much and we came out unscathed by injuries. It was a tough challenge, but our opponents came into the game short staffed, and it was close until they went down a couple men down late.”
In McMaster’s Sunday quarter-final game against Guelph on Oct. 30, however, it was a much different narrative. As the visiting them, facing the higher seeded Gryphons, they would not be victorious. The 3-1 loss would serve as the bitter end to an underwhelming season.
Guelph took the lead very early on, netting two goals in the first and fifth minute. Mac could not recover in spite of having an equal number of chances.
“We went down 2-0 in the first few minutes and then they scored a third goal about fifteen minutes later,” Perri said. “We ended up having a lot of chances ourselves and couldn’t capitalize on them. [Guelph] didn’t do a whole lot to beat us, we beat ourselves. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”
In Mac’s two regular season meetings with Guelph, both ended in a tie. Their first match which ended 0-0 was a competitive matchup with eleven yellow cards allocated by the referee. Both games were physical with the schools’ amorous rivalry on full display. The expectation before their Sunday matchup was that it would be no different.
“The roughness is something the ref has to deal with,” coach Perri said before the game. “You’ve got two teams with animosity between them that are going to battle hard. It’s all going to depend on how the ref officiates and what he lets go.”
McMaster won an OUA silver medal last season and qualified for a spot in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport tournament where they won bronze. This year the team saw much less success with an early elimination. Those on the team were left unsatisfied.
“Overall the season wasn’t great,” coach Perri said. “We didn’t meet our expectations. I expected a lot more from the group of guys that we had. We ran into injury problems early in the year which set us back and I think we never recovered.”
Looking to next season, Mac will be losing key members of their team, and will be attempting to build from ground up.
“We have a few players leaving. Marco Gennaccaro, Kody Kazda, Kyle Kazda, and Karl Bicamumpaka are all leaving. We will be losing some important players to graduation next season.”
Despite not meeting expectations, the Marauder men should be proud of the way the bounced back from injuries and a tough early schedule to put themselves in a position to make some noise in the playoffs. For those coming back next season, they should hold their heads up high and work hard to improve their standing for next year.