Aaron Walsh- The Brock Press
Following on from the women’s match, the male Badgers faced harsh conditions going into a vital match against fellow playoff contenders the Western Mustangs. With the Mustangs being six points clear of the Badgers in the final playoff spot and with a game in hand, it was vital for Brock to close the gap in front of the Homecoming crowd.
The wind picked up in the afternoon and rain kept coming, Jake Sweetzer’s (Mississauga, Ont.) six-yard box was completely flooded preventing him from warming up inside the goal. Changes made by head coach Bill Millar allowed striker Aaron Vasant (Mississauga, Ont.) to replace an injured Marcus Bernard (Thornhill, Ont.) and partner with Sammy Orlando (Woodbridge, Ont.) up front leading the attack in a 4-4-2 formation. Other changes saw Peter Papadopoulos (Markham, Ont.) replace a suspended Bawe Nsame (Montreal, Que.) in the central midfield.
An unfortunate reoccurrence has become a familiar story for this Badger side; they concede very early on. Two minutes in, the Badgers were caught cold and flat-footed defending a set piece. A low and hard free kick was drilled across the box from the Badgers defensive left side. Diagonal runs across the box by the Mustangs were not tracked by the Badgers defence and allowed Christian Douglas (Oakville, Ont.) to run in all alone and smash it in from six yards out, Sweetzer didn’t stand a chance.
After conceding early, the Badgers were then on the back foot for the first 10 minutes. The Mustangs found success by firing low crosses along a slippery surface from both flanks. Brock was able to weather the storm and finally found their feet and certainly took the game to the Mustangs.
Around the 12th minute, Orlando had Brock’s best chance to level the match. Orlando found the loose ball in the middle of the pitch and with his pace, comfortably darted past the Mustang central defence. Orlando was then able to find a half-yard of space and strike the ball with venom towards goal. This forced the Mustang’s goalkeeper to pull off an acrobatic save. The same happened again roughly three minutes later.
A poor goal kick by the Mustangs allowed the Badgers to pick up the loose ball and thread it again to Orlando. Orlando would almost replicate the same play from before and again force the keeper to make a splendid save. Brock could have been comfortably up 3-1 at one stage but again failed to capitalize.
A long ball from deep in the Mustang’s half was flicked on by their striker, which allowed Douglas to beat the offside trap and go in once again all alone with Sweetzer. The one-on-one opportunity was dispatched with composure and the Mustangs had the two-goal cushion.
All seemed lost going into the break but the Badgers managed to claw their way back. A nice build up play down Brock’s left side allowed Marco Paoletti (Mississauga, Ont.) in the 43rd minute to carefully curl a high ball over the Mustang’s back line. The ball fell right into the path of Vasant, which led to the young striker scoring his first goal on his starting debut for the Badgers.
The second half started and the Badgers had every chance of coming back and winning the match, but this would not be the case. 10 minutes in and the conditions became worse. Millar made changes at the interval which saw Yan Illic (Dundas, Ont.) move to left-back and Jose Montoya (Welland, Ont.) replace an injured Benjamin Haggith (Paris, Ont.) at centre-back.
Both sides came out slowly and made little use of possession. If the Badgers could have only converted the chances earlier on, they could have sat back on their three goals. The game gradually went in Western’s favour. The Badgers were giving the ball away cheaply and were taking too many touches, which forced themselves to get caught on the ball.
Self-made errors forced the Badgers to give away possession in their own half and the Mustangs pounced on the opportunity. A quick counter attack transpired and the ball was sprayed out to the right flank to the goal scorer Douglas. Douglas was allowed to clip a ball high to the Badgers back post.
This allowed the ball to trickle onto the edge of the 18-yard box, which was found first by a Mustang. The shot was cannoned in and Sweetzer was able to react instantly and parry the venomous shot away, but again the Badgers were caught flat. The first to react to the rebound was striker Filippo Iuliani (Beamsville, Ont.) to tap it in and put the nail in the coffin for the 3-1 Western victory.