Photo by: Vikram T
On Wednesday Oct. 26, the Brock Badgers men’s soccer team traveled to Guelph to play in a first round Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoff game against the Guelph Gryphons.
Brock entered the playoffs having tied their last two games, including their last against the York University Lions, the second ranked team in the province. Despite not having scored a goal in their last three matches, and only three in their last ten, Brock’s 4-3-5 record was good for sixth in the OUA’s Western division.
The Gryphons on the other hand, going 6-1-5 on the season, finished third in the division. The Gryphons featured a high-powered offence that had drawn out two, four and even eight goal wins. However, their last two meetings with the Badgers were tight affairs, with Guelph coming out on top 1-0 on Oct. 14, and tying 0-0 two days later.
Though beating Guelph would be an upset, Brock had shown enough in those two contests that they could hang with the three seed.
Brock showed that competence early as just eight minutes and 48 seconds in, midfielder Marc Iantomasi converted to end the three game drought, getting the monkey off their back and putting the Badgers up one with over 80 minutes remaining.
Though Brock would have two shots that half to Guelph’s three, the Badgers dialed up the defensive intensity to hold the 1-0 lead for the rest of the first half.
Brock’s lead would not hold for very long in the second.
At 53:16, Guelph’s Leo Shrimpton scored following a free kick to even the game after a Badgers foul.
The physicality picked up even more for both sides following the goal, showing an appropriate intensity for a tied playoff game.
Brock’s Victor Kariuki picked up a yellow card at 69:06, Brock’s second after Connor Carroll’s first half card. Guelph’s Harvey Marchant and Jack Pensom each pick up one of their own five and six minutes later. Four minutes after that, Brock’s Tiago Pereira would become the third Badger to receive a yellow.
Still tied after full time, the sides would head to two 15-minute overtimes.
Guelph started the overtime scoring early. Just under three minutes into he first frame, John Greenhough found the back of the net to put the Gryphons up 2-1. With that goal being the only shot on target for either side in that overtime, Guelph held that lead for the rest of the first overtime.
They would also hold it for almost the entire second overtime as well. With very little time remaining, Guelph’s Jack Pensom earned a red card on a poorly timed foul. With only two minutes left in their season, Brock striker Michael Solomon scored to extend the match and keep the hope alive for penalty kicks.
Unfortunately, that was as much extra hope as the Badgers would get. Though they performed admirably, Brock would lose the penalty shootout 4-5, giving Guelph a 3-2 win and a second round playoff berth.
Though a regrettable end to the season, there were a number of bright moments spots thato camecome out of it. In his first year as head coach, Aleks Balta steered the Badgers to become one of the top defensive sides in the province, giving up only five goals in twelve games in the regular season. With the team’s progress, it is hard not to be excited about next season.
The full results of the men’s soccer season can be found on their gobadgers.ca page. If you wish to follow the rest of the OUA soccer playoffs, you can find those results on the OUA website.