Men’s soccer faced off against the UOIT Ridgebacks and the Trent Excalibur on Friday and Sunday, repeating a pair of victories over these two teams from earlier in the season.
Having played and won against both these teams almost a month prior, Queen’s headed into these matches knowing another six points were ripe for the taking. The Gaels narrowly beat UOIT 1-0, and defeated Trent 4-2.
Like the previous match against the Ridgebacks, there was a highly physical pace, but the Gaels remained resilient. It took only 20 minutes for the Gaels to break the deadlock when Kyle Owens’ slotted his first goal of the season. From then on the game remained quiet once more, with keeper Taylor Reynolds only making two other saves, resulting in the clean sheet.
Conor Hannigan, the Gaels center back, said he was proud of how the team played and improved.
“A huge positive to take from the weekend is our adaptability as a team,” he said via Facebook. “The flexibility we now have as a team in how we set up can cause a lot of problems for opposition, especially now that we’re comfortable playing [different formations].”
On Sunday, the Gaels were cautious against a team they’d previously beaten handily. While heartened by their previous success, they weren’t going to take the matchup lightly.
It started off badly when Trent opened the scoring, but Patrick van Belleghem quickly equalized for the Gaels. A goal by Brevin Mackay helped Queen’s take the lead, only for Trent to equalize once again. The Gaels continued on the pressure and finally broke once again scoring two goals in quick succession off an own goal, and then a shot from William Twardek, finally putting the game to bed.
When asked about the weekend and whether there were any players who stood out, Hannigan said several players shone during the two games.
“Sam Abernethy … he’s done a very good job for us playing a number of different positions. He’s intelligent and consistent, and he had two very good matches over the weekend,” Hannigan said.
“It was also nice to see rookie Brevin MacKay … have an instant impact, scoring in the second half,” he continued. “With a number of injuries, we’re going to need a lot of guys to step it up that little extra bit come playoffs, so it’s nice to see that it’s already begun happening.”
With their last two games looming ahead against Nipissing and Laurentian, the Gaels look to push for higher seeding in the playoffs. Apair of wins next week would put immense pressure on U of T’s Varsity Blues and the Ryerson Rams, who sit in the top two positions in the OUA East above the third-place Gaels, one and five points ahead, respectively.
“It’s important that we challenge for second place in order to secure a playoff bye in the first round,” Hannigan said. “With Toronto still to play Ryerson on the last day of the season, if we continue to pick up points, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
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