For the second straight season, penalty kicks cost the UNB Varsity Reds a shot at gold at the CIS men’s soccer championships.
The Varsity Reds, who didn’t lose a game during the Atlantic University Sport regular season or playoffs, fell 2-1 in penalty kicks to the McMaster Marauders on Thursday in the opening game of the 2014 national tournament in Charlottetown.
The loss means UNB will now play in tomorrow morning’s consolation game for a chance to play in Saturday’s fifth-place game.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose at this level and to lose in that manner,” said Reds head coach Miles Pinsent after the game.
Last year, playing on home turf, the Varsity Reds lost to the Laval Rouge et Or in penalty kicks in the semifinals and then went on to win the bronze medal game. The highest UNB will be able to finish this year is fifth.
The opening minutes of Thursday’s match proved costly for the Varsity Reds. In the seventh minute, McMaster’s Paterson Farrell scored to give the Marauders an early 1-0 lead.
“I wasn’t really pleased with the first half. I thought we played a little bit timid and I guess that’s to be expected in the first game of a national tournament,” said Pinsent. “I thought with our experience that maybe the boys would have handled that first half a little bit better.”
The coach added that he felt his team had no flow in the early goings.
“Defensively I thought we were kind of frozen a little bit. We weren’t reading and reacting quickly enough and as a result [the Marauders] were getting a lot of the second balls. Offensively I just felt that the guys were in too much of a rush to make a play as opposed to just relaxing and waiting for the play to unfold.”
Despite struggling for much of the first half, the Reds managed to outshoot the Marauders 8-7. In the final 15 minutes or so, UNB created a few quality scoring opportunities.
In the second half, UNB pressed hard to get the tying goal, but McMaster goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo stood tall and made some big saves.
In stoppage time, a long shot from Diego Padilha sailed in to tie things at 1-1. The goal was especially rewarding for the Reds after Steven Miller had to be helped off the field moments earlier with an injury.
Pinsent was pleased with his team’s performance in the final 45 minutes of regulation time.
“To their credit — a much better second half. I thought we really dominated. We had numerous chances and we left it to the last minute to get the tying one but I thought we definitely deserved at least that one goal in that second half.”
The Varsity Reds carried the momentum they gained from the tying goal into extra time, coming close to taking a 2-1 lead several times. As time went on though, McMaster started to get things going again and the teams traded chances in the final few minutes.
Despite combining for 10 total shots in the extra 30 minutes of action, the game remained tied and went into penalty kicks.
In penalty kicks, both goalkeepers made some great saves. Ultimately, McMaster was able to clinch with three goals while UNB was able to score just two. Kieran Doyle-Davis won it for the Marauders with the final goal of the shootout.
“[Varsity Reds Goalkeeper Aaron McMurray] was fantastic and he always does well in the shootouts. I think in the shootout is probably where our injuries caught up to us,” said Pinsent, saying the team was unable to use three of their top shooters due to injuries.
UNB will play the loser of the Alberta/UQAM game tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the first consolation game.