Furious finish

Queen’s buries Nipissing in 88th minute

Striker Chris Michael scored four goals in 11 regular season games.
Striker Chris Michael scored four goals in 11 regular season games.
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Men’s soccer pulled past Nipissing in the final minutes, while the women’s win over Laurentian was never in doubt.
Men’s soccer pulled past Nipissing in the final minutes, while the women’s win over Laurentian was never in doubt.
Photo: 

Kristian Zanette’s late heroics saved the Gaels on Wednesday.

The second-year midfielder broke a deadlock in the dying minutes of Queen’s first-round playoff match with the Nipissing Lakers, blasting the game-winning goal for a 2-1 victory.

The late tally will send the Gaels to an OUA East semi-final matchup against the Carleton Ravens, set for Sunday afternoon.

The Lakers, who were spanked 7-0 by the Gaels this past Sunday, came out aggressive at West Campus Field, eager to erase the blowout loss.

The Gaels needed a few minutes to find their footing. A Nipissing scoring chance in the 10th minute triggered Queen’s defence, who proceeded to knock out three consecutive throw-in attempts.

Their energy carried to the other side of the pitch, where, in the 12th minute, the Gaels hammered a shot just over the crossbar.

Gaels coach Chris Gencarelli commended the Lakers’ early organization.

“They came with a game plan — try to counterattack us every time they had the opportunity,” Gencarelli said.“They sent four or five guys forward.”

The rest of the half was a battle of two distinct styles. At one end, the Nipissing goalkeeper and defencemen hoofed long balls in an attempt to penetrate the Gaels’ zone.

The home side opted for a more methodical approach, working the ball laterally and looking for open lanes.

Neither team could register a score in the first half of play.

“It was one of those games where you had to grind out the victory,” Gencarelli said.

Queen’s returned from the break with renewed spirit. In the 54th minute, midfielder Eric Koskins slipped a goal past Lakers keeper Andrew Reddick.

Nipissing’s response came in the 67th minute, with striker Ryan Mantle beating otherwise solid Gaels netminder Dylan Maxwell. The two squads continued to grapple into the final minutes of the game.

Gaels fans were shivering in the stands when Zanette finally fired the game winner. It came in the 88th minute of play and brought most in attendance to their feet.

Bolstered by the late score, the Gaels easily held off their opponents until the final whistle.

“I thought we came out flat,” Gencarelli said. “I give credit to Nipissing, they were really well-organized.

“We’ll take the win, move forward and prepare for Carleton on Sunday.”

The men met Carleton twice in regular season play, dropping both games by scores of 2-0 and 4-1. The Ravens finished one spot ahead of the Gaels in the East division.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s matchup, Gencarelli is pushing for much more physical play.

“We have to be tougher, we have to be stronger,” he said. “We have to play our style and that’s playing direct. If we play our style, we can win on Sunday.”

Both teams advanced to the OUA Final Four last season. Queen’s lost their semi-final match, while Carleton was stifled in the final by the McMaster Marauders.

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