The 2018 season came to an end for the Brock Badgers men’s soccer team this past Sunday, as they finished with a 6-8-2 record, just two points shy of a playoff spot. The race for the final two spots was a tight one, with Brock, Waterloo and Windsor all vying to clinch this past weekend.
There were a lot of pieces to this complicated playoff puzzle, and almost every piece had to fall perfectly into place in order for Brock to clinch, as they started off as the odd-team out. The top six teams in the OUA West division advance to the playoffs: York, Guelph, McMaster, and Western had already clinched prior to this weekend, while Laurier and Algoma had long been sitting in the basement of the division.
It just so happened that Brock and Waterloo were set to face off on Saturday to determine who would be playing in the postseason. A Badger win would send Brock to the playoffs for a second straight year, while a Warrior win or tie, would have Waterloo continuing on their season. The game ended up as a 2-2 tie, with that coveted point being added to the Warriors’ column, after a disappointing 2017 season.
Not all hope was lost for the Badgers, however, as there was still one more way for Brock to clinch a playoff spot. A Badger win, and a Windsor loss would send Brock to the playoffs. While the probability wasn’t in Brock’s favour, Brock just had to beat a lowly Laurier team that came into the game with a 1-9-5 record — their only win coming against the even worse 0-15-1 Algoma Thunderbirds.
Windsor on the other hand, was playing a Guelph team that sits in second place, and boasted a record of 10-3-2 coming into Sunday. It seemed quite possible that the Badgers would clinch a playoff spot, and face off against McMaster in the opening round of the playoffs. Brock did their part, beating Laurier by a score of 1-0 in a game that was probably closer than it should’ve been.
Jordan Smalling scored his third goal of the season, but the majority of extra time was played in the Badger zone; Brock’s goalkeeper Anthony Stott made a diving, fingertip-extending stop that not only saved the game, but for all accounts, also the Badgers season.
“Anytime Laurier had the ball it was going to be a threat. That last save, that’s why [Stott’s] a veteran goalie,” said Badgers head coach Lucio Ianiero. “[Stott] has proved himself with that save today.”
The Badgers took care of business, but with their playoff fate hanging in the balance of the Windsor Lancers, the possibility of playing in the postseason was still very much unknown. Ultimately, Brock received no help from Windsor, as a desperate Lancers team defeated a Guelph team that had nothing to play for, as they already were locked into the second seed, by a score of 4-1.
Coach Ianiero also spoke on what it meant to see the women’s team clinch a playoff spot this weekend. “I think it’s huge, I think the women’s program deserved to be in the playoffs last year — there was some circumstances that were out of their control that put them out of the playoffs, but it speaks volume for the direction the programs are going in.”
Moving forward, Coach Ianiero believes that the men’s program is on the right path for success.
“The success of the program is based on the clientele that we bring in as far as our recruits; we got a great coaching staff, great mindset with the program, with the kids coming in. We try and recruit the right character, and [the program] is just moving in the right direction based on our philosophy.”