Men’s soccer breaks on through

By dropping Laurentian, the Gaels win their first playoff game since 2007

Nathan Klemencic goes for the ball against the Laurentian Voyageurs’ goalkeeper Wednesday.
Nathan Klemencic goes for the ball against the Laurentian Voyageurs’ goalkeeper Wednesday.

The Gaels earned a spot in the OUA quarterfinals on Wednesday, as they battled a strong Laurentian team to win 3-1. It was the first playoff win for the men’s soccer team since 2007, when they claimed a bronze medal in the OUA playoffs.

Captain Michael Arnold showed cautious optimism after his team’s win.

“It’s good, it’s what we wanted,” he said. “You never know, playoffs are a totally new season. So it’s good to get this under our belt and move forward. It was just about battling and making sure that we’re outworking the other team. We know that we have the quality, but it’s just about putting it to work.”

The Gaels stormed to an early 2-0 lead after just 19 minutes, with striker Eric Hoskins and centre-back Joseph Zuppo both finding the back of the net after goal line scrambles.

“We executed early on our chances,” said Arnold. “We made sure that we got those scrappy goals.” Laurentian hit back in the 33rd minute, narrowing the Gaels’ lead to 2-1. Arnold said he was pleased with his team’s ability to hang on to their margin through the second half.

“It was tricky,” he said. “Being up one goal is kind of a tricky spot. You have to make sure to play your game and not fall back into the mindset of, ‘we’re up one goal, let’s hold on to it.’ So, I think the key was to continue to attack and create chances, and to open [Laurentian] up.”

Queen’s had many chances during the latter half to score a third goal and put the game away. Despite this, the Gaels were unable to capitalize on these opportunities. Midfielder Daniel McBride as well as Arnold both saw major chances go wide of the goal.

The captain saw the Gaels’ lack of opportunism as a key area for improvement for the team’s next match up.

“Games get tougher as you go forward, so we need to make sure we capitalize on all our chances,” he said.

Arnold finally sealed the Gaels’ fate late in the game, netting a well-executed 3-1 goal in the 87th minute.

Despite being seeded fourth in the OUA East and finishing with an 8-5-1 record, Arnold said he was optimistic about his team’s chances.

“If teams are just looking at our regular season, we are considered the underdog,” he said. “But, we feel that … we are a scary team to play. We have aspirations to make it to the finals and win the finals, so I believe it’s possible.”

Head Coach Chris Gencarelli had a cool-headed approach to the Gaels’ chances in the playoffs. The Gaels will face the University of Toronto on Saturday; Queen’s lost both their games against them this season. Despite this, Gencarelli dismissed taking a different approach.

“We are going to treat it like any other game,” he said. “Whoever it is, we are going to have to just play our game; we are going to go and play mistake-free soccer.” As for the Gaels’ performance on Wednesday, Gencarelli had mixed thoughts.

“I felt there were times when we sat back a bit, after we went two goals up,” he said. “But in the second half I was happy with the way we were able to hold on and bring our game to them. On the whole, I was satisfied with the performance.”

The Gaels had met the Lakers in their last regular season game, beating them 4-0.

“That [game] was important,” said Gencarelli. “The previous weekend, we had not gotten any points. So it was good to get the win, and it was also good for our confidence coming into this game.”

The Gaels will face off against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday in Toronto. The game is set to start at 3:15 p.m.

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