The Brock University men’s Soccer team served the Western Mustangs their first loss of the season, ending a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory this past Saturday on Brock’s home turf.
Just nine minutes into the game, defender Eric Serafino lost his footing, leaving a Western striker alone at the top corner of the box, who sniped it home to open the scoring.
After an upfield press forced a turnover in the Western penalty box, a hand ball gave the Badgers an opportunity to tie the game just minutes after conceding the opening goal. Brock’s Liam Wilson stepped up to the spot but his shot looked to be brilliantly stopped by the Western goalkeeper. However, the linesman ruled that the goalie had stepped off his line before Wilson touched the ball. The Badgers were afforded a second opportunity. Wilson nearly blew the second opportunity as he went left and was stopped by the Western goalkeeper again. But, the rebound bounced right back to him, and the third time was the charm as he headed it into the bottom corner of the net.
After the contentious call by the linesman on the penalty non-save, on which the Western goalie earned a yellow card for persistent arguing. The game became significantly more “chippy” on both teams ends, as the referee seemed to have mismanaged the game with poor calls and a lack of discipline. Brock Coach Lucio Ianiero indicated that this referee has a history of poor performances.
“He lost control of the game early. We had him here against Waterloo and same kind of deal. He just doesn’t have good control of the game, he misses a lot of things, I’m not sure what (refereeing certification) level he is at,” said the coach.
Emotions ran high on both benches as over-physical play and unruly behaviour became a common theme.
It would only become more intense as a controversial call would incense the Western bench and ensure the rest of the game would be played under high tension. As the Badgers played a ball into the box, though the referee did not call anything, the linesman ruled that Western goalkeeper Kody Thompson committed a foul in the penalty box. Thompson responded with outrage, leading to his second yellow card of the game. As he exited the field, he proceeded to yell at the officials and Brock players, whipping his gloves and equipment all over the field.
After Wilson looked shaky on the first penalty, hometown freshman Alexander Makubaya stepped up to score his team-leading third goal of the season, which would prove to be the game-winner.
The Badgers put away the game with a few minutes left in regulation on a goal by Jordan Smalling. After a free kick in which the undermanned Western team put almost everyone in front of the ball for, the Badgers were left with a two-on-one counter attack and Liam Wilson would set up Smalling with a beautiful ground pass right at the top of the six-yard box.
With Western down to ten men, the Mustangs looked dangerous when on a set piece, and poor marking continued to be a trait of this Badger defense. Coach Ianiero had addressed this in his game plan beforehand by committing to a man-marking scheme, but said that he felt his midfielder’s defensive shortcomings were exposed and left the back line overwhelmed at times.
The slow starts are another worry as the Badgers conceded a goal again in the first 15 minutes (which they have done in five of their last six games). When pressed on why this is a reoccurring issue, Ianiero was short, saying if he knew what the problem was, it would have been fixed.
As the game went on, every single call was met with arguing and yelling by the Mustangs players, coaches and bench, despite multiple warnings from the on-field officials. The game would come to a boiling point as the referee blew the final whistle, when an unnecessary and rough challenge by a Western defender led to a benches-clearing scrum, but cooler heads would prevail as only pleasantries would be exchanged by both teams. However, there were dangerous challenges by Western that could have led to injuries on another day, and to say the comments coming from the Western team and sideline was distasteful would be an understatement.
The Badgers now have a firm hold on a playoff spot with a record of 3-5-2 and travel to Sault Ste. Marie next weekend for a doubleheader against Algoma.