This past weekend represented the midway point of the season for the Brock men’s soccer team. Their current position presents more of a challenge than that of a season ago. The team has stumbled out of the gates in comparison to 2017, losing three of their first four matches. The most recent homestand provided the opportunity to turn a corner, and the Badgers didn’t disappoint.
“Confidence is such a big factor,” said Badgers head coach Lucio Ianiero. “I think early when we lost to Waterloo we kind of dominated the game, but not on the scoreboard. It sets the tone early, and compared to last year where we were two wins and one tie out of the gate, kids just play with more confidence. So this year on the opposite end I think the confidence issue played a big factor.”
The Badgers entered the weekend coming off of a victory against McMaster and a tough loss against a powerhouse York squad.
“The kids took that as a moral victory and in [Saturday’s] game, they played with a lot of confidence and that’s half the battle,” said Ianiero.
The Badgers newfound confidence led them to a victory over the Windsor Lancers. The Badgers struck quickly as Jared Agyemang opened the scoring just two minutes into the game. The Lancers managed to tie things up early in the second half, but Brock’s Alexander Makubuya responded with a strike of his own in the 65th minute. Jordan Smalling added another in the 80th minute for good measure, as the Badgers staked a 3-1 lead that they would hold to secure the three points.
Sunday’s match presented a test for the Badgers against a Western Mustangs team that they had lost to 3-1 back on Sept. 1 in London.
“I think between Brock and Western there’s always been a bit of, not animosity, but I think it’s a good challenge all the time, they play us tough all the time and yeah, it’s to be expected,” Ianiero said.
The game was a physical one, as the teams racked up their fair share of yellow cards. Western picked up five and Brock were shown two. The sides battled back and forth trading chances, the most notable of which occurred in the final few minutes of the first half when Badgers goalkeeper Alexander May sprawled out for a pair of close range stops.
The game concluded 0-0, and coach Ianiero seemed satisfied with this result given the context of the situation.
“All things considered, we played [Saturday], and they played Friday so they had a day off. We played on grass yesterday and with the change of surface we looked sluggish. It’s to be expected,” Ianiero said.
“We tried to change our game plan up to play a bit more defensive, and I think that kind of hurt us reflecting on that. But we’ll take a point against a good Western team,” Ianiero said.
With a successful four point weekend behind them, the Badgers have overcome their fragile confidence and are now back in position to succeed. When asked of the teams playoff aspirations, Ianiero tempered expectations, but still stood by their goal to qualify this season.
“Our conference is so hard. We have the Yorks, the Guelphs, the Macs, the Westerns as you can see, all great teams, and those four teams will battle each other for the nationals. So, we know we’re not at that level yet, but we’re definitely looking to elevate our program to become that level.”
The Badgers men’s team will look to extend their point streak and climb up the standings next weekend as they head to Guelph and York on Saturday and Sunday for a pair of matchups against the top two teams in t