Early tallies squelch RMC

Gaels turn sights to vital showdown with second-place Carleton

Captain Joe Zupo opened the scoring against RMC in the first minute of play.
Captain Joe Zupo opened the scoring against RMC in the first minute of play.
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Men’s soccer erased 90 minutes of frustration in a matter of seconds.

On Sept. 25, the RMC Paladins held the Gaels to a scoreless draw, costing Queen’s two valuable points in the standings.

They redeemed themselves at home on Friday, scoring just after the opening kickoff and adding another first-half goal to top RMC 2-1.

At 5-2-2, the Gaels are tied for third in the OUA East with five matches left in the regular season. The Laurentian Voyageurs have an identical record, while RMC sits dead last at 1-7-1.

Friday’s win sets up a crucial tilt tomorrow evening in Ottawa, with the Gaels set to face the second-place Carleton Ravens (7-2-2). Carleton blanked Queen’s 2-0 on Sept. 4 in the Gaels’ season opener.

“As long as the guys come out and work really hard and put in the full 90 minutes that we need to compete against Carleton, then hopefully we’ll have a good result,” said Gaels head coach Chris Gencarelli. “I don’t think we were quite there in the first game of the season against them, but we’re a different team [now].”

Sun pokes through the clouds, turning into a wonderful afternoon of football at West Campus. Gaels here to play.

— Queen's Men's Soccer (@QMSoccer) October 4, 2013

Friday’s performance was indicative of the Gaels’ ability to rebound from any initial struggles. In their first meeting with the Paladins, Queen’s directed 13 shots on net, but failed to convert any into goals.

Gaels captain Joe Zupo reversed that trend early on Friday, sneaking up from his centre back position and redirecting a cross into the goal for a first-minute 1-0 lead.

A slew of early chances eventually led to a second marker – this one from striker Chris Michael, who potted a 24th-minute rebound off the crossbar and in.

Despite mustering just two goals in their previous seven games, RMC cut the Gaels’ lead in half minutes before the halftime whistle, with striker Curtis Brown navigating through two defenders and beating Gaels keeper Maxfield Materne.

The Paladins pressed forth after the interval, while Michael and substitute striker Lucas Lobo probed for an insurance tally in response. No goal would come, as Materne held off RMC to earn the win in his first start of the season.

Final whistle sounds and the Gaels come away with a 2-1 win. Huge three points.

— Queen's Men's Soccer (@QMSoccer) October 4, 2013

Gencarelli credited his squad for their aggressive showing in the first half, where they opened up an early and lasting lead.

“I thought the guys were a bit edgy because we did make that mistake and conceded [a goal], so we didn’t have a strong second half,” Gencarelli said. “RMC’s always going to be tough to play against, so we’ll take the points.”

Queen’s now sits 11 points back of the first-place Ryerson Rams, making it unlikely that they’ll repeat as OUA East regular season champions.

The Gaels are six points behind Carleton with two games in hand, meaning tomorrow’s tilt could decide who receives the division’s other playoff bye.

“We control our own destiny with respect to where we finish this year,” Gencarelli said. “We’re looking to win every remaining game to finish second.”

OUA East Standings

1. Ryerson [9-0-1] – 28 pts
2. Carleton [7-2-2] – 23 pts
T3. Laurentian [5-2-2] – 17 pts
T3. Queen’s [5-2-2] – 17 pts
5. Toronto [2-4-3] – 9 pts
6. Nipissing [2-7-1] – 7 pts
7. Trent [1-8-2] – 5 pts
8. RMC [1-7-1] – 4 pts

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