Following a 1-0 loss to McMaster Saturday and a 4-2 win against Brock Sunday in their final conference match, the Lancers Men’s Soccer team finished fourth in the OUA West and will advance to the playoffs.
Windsor had a tough battle Saturday at home against conference second-place McMaster, eventually losing 1-0. The only goal of the match was scored by the Marauders Daniel Niksic at the 32nd minute of the first half. After being dominated in the first 45 minutes, the Lancers came back strong for the second half, making many attempts to tie the match.
“We played one of the best teams of Canada and I think we deserved a better fate,” Lancers head coach Steve Hart said. “We dominated them in the second half.”
Sunday, Windsor started off in an electrifying way, with David Salinitri and Eric Cirovski creating many chances from the right side of the field. On the left side, Christian Mayorga was a constant threat for the Badgers, and in the middle Mike Watson and Chris Lanni organized the team, feeding their teammates many chances to score.
The first goal happened in the 18th minute of the match. Christian Mayorga took a hard shot from a long distance, the ball bounced on the floor, deceiving Brock’s goal keeper Jake Sweetezer. Sweetzer failed to hold the ball, giving the rebound to Windsor’s Mike Pio. Always opportunistic, Pio put the ball into the net.
With Brock’s goalie noticeably insecure, Mayorga took many shots from far way. Sweetzer struggled with the balls that bounced near the goal. In the 34th minute, in a well organized play, Mike Watson and Chris Lanni exchanges passes. Watson took a shot outside from the penalty box. Sweetzer was not able to make the save and the Lancers went ahead 2-0.
Brock’s Sammy Orlando created attempts for his teammates, but was unable to break through the well posted Windsor defense. In the 40th minute of the match, after a cross from the right side, the referee called a penalty kick against Windsor. Orlando, a finesse player, chose to take a low weak shot. The ball went to the right side of the goal but Windsor’s goal keeper Sam Atkin made an incredible save.
Near the end of the of the first half, Mayorga invaded the opponent’s area. After faking a couple defenders, he took a shot which should have been an easy save. Sweetzer, however, allowed the ball to go under his body for Windsor’s third goal of the game.
With victory almost certain, Hart decided to use his spare players and give a rest to some of his starters. On the eighth minute of the second half, coming out from the bench, Bret Hollberg scored a fourth goal for the Lancers.
If it were not for the constant attacks conducted by Orlando, the Badgers would not have posed a threat to Atkins goal. Orlando, however, also displayed very weak finishing skills, missing at least three certain opportunities to score.
In the last 15 minutes of the match, Windsor retracted, allowing Brock to take initiative. Atkin’s post was bombarded by Orlando and his teammates. It almost seemed as if Windsor had lost interest in the match.
“Usually, the referees in a match like that, so close to the playoffs, would use good common sense while using yellow cards,” Hart said. “This was not the case today, as the referee gave two cards for our players. This forced us to change our way of playing.”
Orlando kept on creating and missing chances, until the 81st minute when Brock scored its first goal through Osa Abonwaneken.
The Lancers kept up their defensive strategy. On the 87th minute, Ben Haggit scored Brock’s second goal.
The Lancers now look forward to entering the playoffs with a game against Guelph Wednesday at Alumni Field at 7 p.m.
“Guelph has a very good team and we know them quite well,” Hart said. “They have a very good forward, Robbie Murphy, whom I have worked with on the national team. We will plan to find a way to neutralize him in the match. I expect a very hard game.”