When discussing men’s soccer rivals at McMaster University, two teams that are automatically brought to the conversation are the York Lions and the Guelph Gryphons.
On Sept. 7, over 2,000 roaring fans attended York’s Frosh Frenzy game, making it impossible for the Marauders to match the momentum of their longtime rivals.
After starting off their season 3-1 with an impressive 12 total goals, the Marauders fell 5-2 in this heated rivalry matchup. Mac coach Dino Perri indicated that both York’s experience and the rowdy atmosphere of the stadium had a major impact on the outcome of the game.
“We’re a little bit inexperienced and we played a pretty experienced team who came out pretty fast. I don’t think we were quite ready for the pace of the game and the atmosphere of the stadium,” he said.
With a team comprised mainly of younger players, the intense atmosphere on the road was new for many, but it served as a helpful learning opportunity for all.
“A game like today was like being at nationals, which is a really good experience for our guys and something I don’t think they’re gonna get playing against any other team,” Perri said. “It’s something that the majority of our team never experienced.”
While the excitement of the crowd may have come as a shock, the nature of the game, heavily influenced by the rivalry, was no surprise. With 23 combined fouls (9 for Mac, 14 for York), it was clear that both teams were playing each other with their history in mind.
Although the Lions are now 8-2 over Mac in their last 10 meetings, for Perri, the backstory between the two teams does not define their future.
“The two teams’ history plays a big part, but in the second half we answered a lot of questions that we can actually play with them when we want to and that there is nothing to fear. If they take away all the noise and go out and play properly, they’re more than capable.”
Just two days after their loss, the Marauders proved that they were indeed more than capable. McMaster faced their other rivals, the Guelph Gryphons, and beat the defending Ontario University Athletics champions in a solid 4-2 victory.
Just like when playing at York, the Marauders knew that their history with Guelph played a huge role in the match and told them what to expect on the field from the Gryphons.
“They play a very fast and physical type of game and we just have to adapt properly.” Perri said.
“If [McMaster] come out playing like they’re capable of like they did today [at York] in the second half, we should be able to come away with a victory.”
By defeating Guelph, who they also happened to fall short to in last year’s OUA quarterfinals, the Marauders proved to the naysayers that they can keep up with the best of the best. So look out Lions, because on October 6 the McMaster’s men’s soccer team will be ready.