By: Griffin Marsh
Heading into the second half of the season, the McMaster men’s soccer team looks to continue to find the back of the net at an impressive rate while shutting down teams at the other end.
The Marauders have already played nine games of their 16-game season with lots of positive moments to reflect on. McMaster is scoring at a rate of three goals per game, fourth highest in all of U Sports.
This is a different place than Mac has found itself in previous years. Perhaps it’s the different personnel or a younger team, but overall, head coach Dino Perri is very positive about what he sees.
“Scoring is tough, but stopping teams is a little easier at times, so I am happy about where we are at,” said Perri. “We are still relatively young, so the inconsistency of a young team is there. Be more consistent and stronger on the defensive end and I think we will be in good shape going forward.”
The Marauders faced an interesting double-header Sept. 23 and 24. Playing Windsor and Western, both games presented challenges. The travel time to Windsor will always play a role in Mac’s performance, and Western is a team that always presents a good test. Despite the challenges, Mac was able to win both games and added six more goals to their season total.
“[Windsor’s] record may not be indicative of where they have been in the past… but playing on their field, which can be a little bit difficult, always presents a challenge,” said Perri of McMaster’s first opponent. “We are used to the two games in a weekend type of thing and we take one game at a time and constantly preach to the guys to not underestimate your opponent.”
Looking beyond this weekend, the remainder of the season and the future of the team looks bright for McMaster. The team has a young and ambitious cohort but they are also focused and driven on their immediate future. For Perri, the goals for this season have been and will always remain the same: to compete and challenge for a championship in Nov., and this still remains in reach.
A new piece on the team and a player already playing key roles is freshman offensive mid-fielder, Anand Sergeant. Sergeant has impressed through the first half of the season, scoring two goals and adding two assists while starting in all seven games. For coach Perri, what stands out about Sergeant is his soccer IQ.
“He is very intelligent, extremely intelligent,” said Perri. “A smart player, who works to no end. Transition into university is just the understanding of the game. It is a big jump and he has done it seamlessly.”
Sergeant has the talent to add to this team, but for himself, the keys to success are a humble attitude and a balanced life.
“We always have the belief and the mentality that we will win, no matter who we are facing.”
Men’s Soccer Team
“I’m very grateful the coaches have given me a chance to play and show that I can play at this level,” said Sergeant. “Having an immediate impact on my team was a goal I had coming into university, so I’m very happy to be playing. It’s a proud feeling wearing the McMaster logo and representing my school on the field.”
The adjustment into university and varsity life can be a real challenge for some, but Sergeant credited a thoughtful organization and proactive attitude for his initial comfort.
“It has definitely been an adjustment in terms of balancing both school and soccer,” said Sergeant. “It’s a commitment that requires me to make sacrifices in my social life, and the time I have to ‘relax’ in a day — but these are things I expected in advance.”
Moving forward, Sergeant is as equally optimistic as coach Perri about this team’s future in the short- and long-term.
“I believe we have a team that’s capable of doing big things,” Sergeant said. “We have a great balance of veterans with our first and second-year players, and we have such good depth in every position. One thing I like about us is that we always have the belief and the mentality that we will win, no matter who we are facing.”
McMaster is in a tight race to top the Ontario University Athletics West standings and with more positive results against top teams, their chances will continue to look brighter. One thing is for certain though: this team is set up to challenge in the OUA and U Sports competition for years to come.
Up next for the team is a Friday night fight against the Laurier Golden Hawks.