The defending Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s soccer champions are off to a 4-0-0 start.
The UNB Varsity Reds faced two tough tests this weekend and came away with six points, defeating the Cape Breton Capers 2-0 on Saturday and the Acadia Axemen by the same score on Sunday.
“It’s a great start,” said coach Miles Pinsent. “We played against some good opposition this weekend and to come out of it with maximum points is a job well done.”
The Reds, who swept the MUN Sea-Hawks to open the season, sit in first place in the AUS with 12 points. They’ve outscored opposition 10-1.
On Saturday, the Reds and Capers took part in a physical affair that featured six yellow cards — five of which were handed to Cape Breton.
UNB opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the game. Oliver Jones was stopped on a breakaway by Cape Breton keeper Ethan MacInnis but Marcus Lees was there to put in the rebound and make it 1-0 UNB.
Cape Breton’s Alex Sements had a tremendous chance to tie the match up a little later on but booted the ball just wide of an open net. The Capers outshot the Reds 5-2 in the first half.
The Capers were the better team in the opening minutes of the second half but failed to connect. UNB’s defence, along with goalkeeper Aaron McMurray, did a good job at weathering the storm.
“We’ll give Cape Breton some of the credit,” said Pinsent after the game. “I think our guys stopped initiating the play. We were just sitting back and trying to react to Cape Breton’s play and that’s a dangerous thing to get into especially against a side that has the talent Cape Breton does.”
UNB began to retake control of the match in the 75th minute when Victor Karosan scored an insurance marker. The Fredericton native had his first chance go off the post but he quickly grabbed the rebound to make it 2-0 V-Reds. Shots in the second half were 4-3 in favour of the Reds.
“I thought Cape Breton had, probably, the majority of the play for the second half until we got that second goal and then that kind of decided things,” added Pinsent.
On Sunday, Jones snuck in past the Acadia defence and made it 1-0 UNB in the 13th minute.
Lees had a couple of great chances in the first half but could not beat Axemen keeper Andrew Macrae. Shots at halftime were 6-1 in favour of UNB.
In the second, Shea Nordheim scored just three minutes in to make it 2-0 Reds. Shots were 3-2 Reds in the half.
“I think both teams were maybe a little bit fatigued,” said Pinsent regarding Sunday’s game. “Both teams played 24 hours before and both of those games were close. I think both teams had some tired bodies on the field.
“The will was there and the intent was there but I felt today wasn’t necessarily as tidy as it could have been. Probably because the guys were a little fatigued.”
McMurray made eight saves for UNB on Saturday while Brandon Eagle made three on Sunday. The goalkeeping duo also split duties the weekend prior in St. John’s.
“I’ve got two fantastic goaltenders and we’ll keep using them,” said Pinsent when asked if the rotation would continue.
The Varsity Reds men’s soccer team plays just one game this coming weekend, hosting the UPEI Panthers at 7 p.m. at BMO Centre.