Royals battle lightning, strike for soccer win

royalsAncaster – On an evening where every minute of play seemed to be in doubt, the Redeemer Royals were able to weather the storm and grab their first win of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s soccer season in dramatic fashion.

The game began with dark clouds, scattered showers, and the risk of lightning. And under these conditions the Royals seemed to grab the spark they needed to put in a full 90-minute performance for a 2-1 victory over the Niagara Knights.

Niagara grabbed a lead in the 22nd minute when Kyle Sheppard scored on a questionable free kick just outside the 18-yard box. With the storm picking up, the game was forced into a 15-minute delay while a pocket of lightning passed by the field.

When the teams returned to play, the Royals proved determined to not let the match get away from them. Redeemer continued to push offensively and were rewarded in the 32nd minute when Lewis Tuininga buried his second goal of the season to tie the game 1-1.

The goal by Redeemer seemed to be the turning point in the game as the Royals began to apply sustained pressure on the Niagara defense. Redeemer had Niagara on their toes with a few chances tight inside the six-yard box, a great opportunity in the 43rd minute on a bouncing ball close to goal, and a great save by Niagara’s goalie on an outside shot by Jordan Bokma late in the first half.

A red card issued in the 64th minute to Niagara’s Erik Greiner, after receiving his second yellow card of the match, gave the Royals another outburst of offensive opportunities. The Royals were finally rewarded with the winning goal in the 85th minute when Josh Elgeti jumped on a rebound. Niagara’s goalie made an initial save on an outside shot from beyond the 18-yard box but couldn’t recover quickly enough to grab the rebound.

Assistant Coach Tim Selles mentioned that the team showed a lot of improvement from the first game of the season. “We put a lot more pressure on their players,” said Selles. “We didn’t give them as much time with the ball and we are pretty happy to walk away here with the win”.

For the coaching staff it was their first win since taking the reins of the men’s soccer program. “It was exciting,” said Selles. “We were biting our nails a bit on the sideline but we are happy with the effort and hope to keep improving. We hope to be able to get some of our guys healed now as we look forward to Fanshawe on Saturday (Sept. 14).”

After two home games, the Royals travel for the first time this season, playing the Fanshawe Falcons in London at 2 p.m.