It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t the dominant performance that McMaster enjoyed a game earlier. But the Marauders rode a moment of pure class from Ryan Garnett to their sixth-consecutive Ontario University Athletics men’s soccer victory on Sunday (Sept. 22), edging the
Western Mustangs, 1-0.
Mac’s midfielder Muntazir Fadhel (17) intercepts a pass. (Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)
The home win propelled McMaster – at least momentarily – to the top of the OUA West division standings. The Marauders leapfrogged the York Lions with 19 points from eight games, having played one more game than the Lions. Mac’s record stands at 6-1-1.
The first half of Sunday’s contest was a cagey affair, with both teams marking closely and giving very little away in the final third. Karl Bicamumpaka – whose skills had been on fine display in McMaster’s midweek destruction of Waterloo – was the man the Marauders looked to unlock along the wing. But as Western’s defenders stepped into space, and McMaster’s touch in midfield faltered, neither Bicamumpaka nor any of his teammates were given a clear attempt on goal.
The deadlock in midfield loosened just before the half, with each team narrowly missing a long attacking run. The creative bursts lacked a final pass, and the teams entered the break without a goal.
Western looked the more likely to score early in the second half, as a reinvigorated counterattack forced McMaster’s defenders to close down smartly and concede several set pieces. But the Mustangs could not make good on the threat, and Garnett made them rue the missed opportunity in the 65th minute.
The veteran defender stood over a free kick on the edge of the Western box, and unleashed a perfectly-weighted drive that eluded the wall and quickly whipped inside the far post. Goalkeeper Adam Majer could only look on helplessly as the ball sailed past him.
The goal in hand, the Marauders effectively put up the barricades in the last 25 minutes of the match. The purposeful counters that had put McMaster on the back foot earlier were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the Marauders probed for a second goal, feeding the ball to the searching runs of Gersi Xhuti.
That insurance never came, but it was not needed, as McMaster easily put the game to rest and secured another three points.
The Marauders will put their six-game winning streak on the line on Friday (Sept. 27). McMaster will take to the road to conclude the season series with the Windsor Lancers, a team the Marauders dispatched at Ron Joyce Stadium on Sept. 15.