The Panthers (1-0-1) and Aigles Bleues (0-1-1) played an entertaining match that saw no goals, few shots, many chances and countless offsides Sunday afternoon in Moncton.
UPEI had three balls behind the Moncton keeper in the first half, yet failed to register a shot on goal. Failure to complete their runs cost the visitors a goal in the 14th minute as a backpass was misplayed by the Moncton keeper and rolled within feet of the goal line.
Tignish native Santana Wedge had several opportunities for Moncton including two in the opening half. One sailed over the net and the other was wide left. Moncton was also the beneficiary of a turnover in the UPEI box in the 29th minute, but were turned away by Panther keeper Channelle Roy.
The score could have been 4-3 for Moncton at half.
The Panthers were the better team for much of the second half, playing mostly in the Moncton side of the pitch. Yet, they did not have a shot on net until the 70th minute.
Meaghan Malcolm, who along with Melissa Richarson were the best Panthers on the day, was in alone but could have taken more time as her shot was easily turned away.
UPEI thought they had the winning goal in the 85th minute. Richardson beat the keeper to the ball, pushing it toward the wide open net where it was hammered off the post by a Moncton defender. A number of Panthers on the field were sure the ball hit inside the net. The referee consulted the line judge before confirming there was no goal.
Wedge had another opportunity in the 89th minute followed seconds later by a Panther chance for Nikki Roberts. The keepers were equal to both challenges.
UPEI 1 Mount Allison 0
The Panthers won their season opener on the strength of Sarah Stanley’s goal early in the second half.
UPEI had the better of the play for the majority of the match, however a determined Mount Allison side threatened to even the score with several quality chances in the last 25 minutes.
UPEI were the better side in the opening half, outchancing Mount Allison 7-1. Jenna Jo MacDonald had a quality opportunity in the 36th minute, but drove the ball right into the keepers’ hands. Opening day jitters appeared to be an issue for several players as several promising moments resulted in a poorly struck ball.
UPEI started strongly in the second half. Stanley headed a Julie Lannan penetrating ball of the post in the 48th minute. The resulting corner saw the home side capitalize as Stanley cleanly beat the Mount A keeper following some good work in the box.
The Mounties’ best chance came in the 68th minute as a crossed ball resulted in confusion between the Panther backline and keeper. The Panthers were fortunate to see a save and have the rebound go out of bounds on the play. This was followed by a fine two-fisted stop in the 70th minute by keeper Channelle Roy from a well struck ball from outside the box.
UPEI outchanced the Mounties 12-5, outshot them 7-4 and held a 6-2 advantage in corners. Mount Allison suffered two injuries on the day. Their stating striker was forced out of the game in the 13th minute and their keeper left the game after being second best in a collision with MacDonald just outside the 18-yard box late in the game.
Coach Mike Redmond used all 16 players in the match as the coaches continue to experiment looking for the right combinations.
UPEI travels to Saint Mary’s on Friday before entertaining UNB on Saturday at 5 p.m.