Two weeks ago, men’s soccer played host to the U of T Varsity Blues and the Ryerson Rams, with a 3-0 thrashing and a 1-1 draw as the unhappy results. This weekend, the Gaels faced the Blues and Rams on the road in another double fixture, this time with 2-1 and 4-1 victories.
On a rainy Saturday, Queen’s faced off against U of T, determined to scratch their previous record against the Blues. The odds didn’t appear to be in the Gaels’ favour, as the Blues were powered by their fans during U of T’s homecoming weekend.
In the first five minutes, the match went in the Blues’ favour, as they scored a header off a well-placed cross. That didn’t deter the Gaels though, and at the 10-minute mark striker Jacob Schroeter equalized the score with a 30-yard strike into the bottom left corner.
The game was ready to ignite, but chances were few and the match remained a stalemate. A key save in the 63rd minute by Gaels goalkeeper Kyle Lazinger kept the Blues at bay until the 81st minute where, off a corner kick, vice-captain centre back Conor Hannigan scored.
Hannigan said the Gaels’ confidence was crucial in earning the result.
“In past years it has sometimes been difficult for us to come back from a goal down,” he said. “This year’s team has shown tremendous resilience in the face of adversity so far throughout the season.”
Tactical play was also key in maintaining the Gaels’ chances against Toronto.
“We maintained our defensive organization for the most part throughout the match with the scoreline at 1-1,” he said. “We got forward at the right moments.”
On paper, the next day’s match was a tougher one, as the Ryerson Rams were ranked second nationally.
As they did the day prior, Queen’s fell to an early lead by Ryerson, who scored in the 5th minute. Queen’s was able to strike back in the 19th minute with a leveller by midfielder Oliver Coren, when he was gifted the ball just outside of the penalty box and slotted it home.
The game remained even until a goal from Schroeter, his second of the weekend, which would ignite the Gaels’ offense and change the tone of the match. Schroeter was named OUA Athlete of the Week for his performance.
The Gaels continued to add pressure and scored another goal from forward Patrick van Belleghem. To finish with a cherry on top, midfielder Tonko Bacelic, who was involved in the buildup for the previous two goals, added a fourth for the Gaels.
When asked about his contribution to the match, Bacelic replied that he was incredibly proud, not of his individual efforts, but those of the team.
“I feel that the type and brand of football that we want to play was finally shown this weekend,” he said. “We played for one another, and we played as a unit.”
A tight but hard fought victory over the Blues and a dominant win over the Rams though doesn’t mean clear sailing for the season. Queen’s currently sits fourth in the OUA East, behind Ryerson, Carleton and the University of Toronto, respectively.
Bacelic and the Gaels take on UOIT and Trent this Saturday at home, looking to build on the six points they picked up this past weekend.
“I think this weekend was a statement for us,” he said. “We know what we are capable of and it was time that we showed it.”
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