Sunday’s season opener was both a confidence boost and chemistry-building session for the men’s soccer team.
They defeated the RMC Paladins 5-0 in front of 125 fans at West Campus Field. It capped off a miserable afternoon for RMC fans in attendance, who witnessed their women’s team lose 6-0 to the defending national champions Gaels.
From Queen’s head coach Chris Gencarelli’s perspective, the game allowed certain players to further develop their chemistry, while it allowed first-time players to adapt to OUA style of play against a physical RMC team.
“[Physicality’s] the one thing that’s the biggest transition from club soccer to the OUA,” he said.
The players experiencing that transition include eight first-year recruits, which Gencarelli added to a 25-man roster.
First-years Tommy Hong and Oliver Coren started for the Gaels in the midfield against RMC. Fellow rookie Andrew Martin saw the field and scored as a sub.
Gencarelli said his recruits impressed against the Paladins, but recognizes they’ve yet to be tested against the OUA’s top tier.
“When we play tougher teams, we’ll see how they compete physically,” he said.
Strikers Eric Koskins and Lucas Lobo and midfielder Chris Michael kept the Paladins defense on their heels, as the Gaels main three attacking options.
“[Michael] partnered up well with Koskins, which was good to see,” Gencarelli said. “They hadn’t had much time to play together, so today was promising.”
“We have depth in the striker position, and whoever’s the most in form between them will play.”
It only took Koskins three minutes to bury his first of the season after a quick break up field by speedy fourth year midfielder Nathan Klemencic. Second-year midfielder Henry Bloemen scored in the 40th minute to make it 2-0 Gaels at the half.
Third-year captain Joseph Zupo buried a penalty kick after Hong was hauled down inside the box at the start of the second half.
“We were convincing in this 5-0 win, but it’s only the start,” Zupo said. “It’s got to continue next week against a much tougher Toronto team.”
The Gaels will play the Ryerson Rams on Sept. 8, followed by a match against last year’s OUA silver medalists, the Toronto Varsity Blues, on Sept. 9.
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