by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
Shortly after receiving their highest CIS national ranking in program history, the Windsor Lancer men’s soccer team were stunned for a loss but rallied to split a pair of contests at Alumni Field this past weekend.
The third-ranked Lancers had their seven-game winning streak broken by the Guelph Gryphons when the visitors took a quick lead and didn’t look back in a 5-2 route Oct. 9. An afternoon start with the Brock Badgers gave Windsor very little rest between matches but the Lancers showed no rust, taking a two-goal lead into halftime and cruised to a 4-0 victory against the eighth-place Badgers Oct. 10.
Guelph was able to score in just 10 minutes and built an early 2-0 lead 18 minutes into the contest. Things would get worse for the Lancers in the second half, as Brendan Teeling was shown a straight red card very early in the frame and Windsor had to play a man short for the remainder of the game. Lancers head coach Steve Hart said his squad played valiantly to get back into the game but their game was abruptly disrupted by Teeling’s ejection.
“Our guys got a little bit shell shocked from the early goals in the first half,” Hart said. “Then it really hurt to lose a player within the first 90 seconds of the second half after we had reformulated at halftime. We had laid out our plans and it might be the quickest send-off for a player in Lancers history.”
The Gryphons built a three-goal lead in the 65th minute before Jack Sargent knocked the ball from the middle of the 18-yard box behind Gryphon goalie Braden Taylor to get the Lancers on the board two minutes later. Guelph answered with a pair of goals from brothers Tomasz and Jace Skublack before Mike Pio closed out the scoring for Windsor.
“It was a bit disappointing but it just wasn’t our night,” said Hart. “It was just a bad day at the office.”
Against the Badgers Oct. 10, Windsor looked like an entirely different squad and thoroughly dominated Brock from start to finish. Jamar Redhead opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Rookie Noah Pio made a strong individual play to beat the Badger defenders and bring the ball into the 18-yard box before sending a pass over to Redhead, who was left open on the far side by the Brock defense.
Hart said the coaching staff knew scoring the first goal against the Badgers was going to be tough and it took the Lancers a while to settle in.
“We needed to get over a few nerves after our Guelph loss,” Hart said. “We were a bit slow in the first 10 or 15 minutes but then we started to get into a rhythm and we scored a good goal early. I thought we were on top of the game. We knocked the heart out of them right before halftime.”
Windsor built a two-goal lead just two minutes later when Leighton Speechley-Price scored his CIS-leading 11th goal of the year with some fancy footwork down the field. The rookie standout tripped up his defender, entered the 18-yard box and blasted the ball past the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net.
Windsor led 2-0 at halftime and it was one-way traffic from that point on.
Lancers fourth-year forward Lyowuna Jumbo dominated the Badgers when he entered the game as a substitute at the intermission. Jumbo scored two goals for Windsor in the final 10 minutes of regulation on a long drive in the 85th minute and finished off the match in style with a header in the dying moments to secure the 4-0 victory.
Kyle Vizirakis earned the win in net, registering his CIS-leading ninth shutout of the regular season. The third year goalkeeper said the loss to Guelph was a tough one but was happy with his team’s ability to bounce back and claim three points with a win against Brock.
“We needed a reality check,” said Vizirakis. “We came in with a sense of entitlement coming in against Guelph and we got our reality check. Now we have to work our butts off for the rest of the season. But it is better the loss came now rather than in the playoffs.”
Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday break and UWindsor’s reading week, the Lancers sport a 10-2-1 record on the season and remain in first place in the OUA West division, two points ahead of the defending CIS champions the York Lions. Not to be forgotten are the McMaster Marauders, who only trail the Lancers by a single point in the standings with a 10-3 record.
With a deep run into the OUA playoffs on their minds, Vizirakis admitted the Lancers are scoreboard-watching for results from McMaster and York as the regular season draws to an end but said Windsor needs to win from this point on to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“We need to focus mainly on what we are doing and hopefully they drop some points along the way,” Vizirakis said.”
Windsor will now travel to Waterloo to face the Waterloo Warriors and Laurier Golden Hawks in a pair of contests next weekend on the road. The Lancers close out their schedule against the Western Mustangs at Alumni Field Oct. 25 with a 3:15 p.m. start.