On a cold Wednesday afternoon, the men’s soccer team scored two goals 15 minutes into the game’s kickoff, granting them a spot in the OUA quarterfinals.
The Gaels prevailed 2-1 with a victory in the first round of the playoffs over the UOIT Ridgebacks. The goals were scored by Chris Wellsman and Sam Abernathy.
“We knew with the conditions, we were going to be able to go at them in a much more direct way,” third-year defender Abernathy said of the Gaels’ early goals. “We were able to go right at them right off the bat.”
However, he gave the Ridgebacks credit for their ability to fight back.
“They were very fast and powerful,” Abernathy said. “They gave us a lot of problems at the back.”
For goaltender Taylor Reynolds, this meant he made five saves in the victory.
After the Gaels took a 2-0 lead, Ridgebacks midfielder Erik Petrovic put his team within one goal in the 26th minute.
“The rest of the game, as we knew it was going to be, was just a battle, back and forth. There were a couple chances for both teams,” Abernathy said.
Queen’s came into the playoff game fresh off a win and a draw on Homecoming weekend with Nipissing and Laurentian. The four points the Gaels picked up on the weekend propelled them into the third place spot, with Rohan Sarna leading the team with a goal in each game.
“We had Monday off from practicing, meaning we only had one full practice before the game on Wednesday,” Abernathy said. “It’s definitely not ideal, but we had a good game plan going in.”
Queen’s travels to Toronto this weekend to take on the second-ranked Varsity Blues for a single elimination quarterfinal.
“It’s a cliché, we all say it, but it’s a whole new season in the playoffs,” Abernathy said. “Every team can win on any given day. There’s a really good atmosphere within the team — we’re just taking it one game at a time.”
The Gaels lost 3-0 at home earlier in the season against Toronto, but came away with a 2-1 victory on the road against the Varsity Blues.
“We’re a very offensive-minded team,” Abernathy said, as the Gaels finished sixth in the OUA with 29 goals on the season. “We know the goals will come, and we’re looking to break them down at all times.”
In the other OUA East quarterfinals, Carleton will take on Ryerson, while York hosts Guelph and Windsor hosts McMaster on the West division side. The victors of these four match-ups will meet next weekend for the OUA Final Four tournament to be hosted by the highest remaining West Division side.
The Gaels will be looking to avenge a quarterfinal loss from last season against the same Varsity Blues team.
“It’s definitely a really good motivator,” Abernathy said. “I don’t think anyone that was there last year is going to forget it very easily. One thing that’s very important is that we don’t let our emotions get the better of us. We know how low we were after that loss, and we know how high we can be if we show how we can play, and get the win this weekend.”
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