A first-half goal was what it took for the 1-0 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers Sunday afternoon at Wickwire Field to vault the UPEI Panthers into fifth place and a showdown with the Acadia Axemen Thursday in the Atlantic University Sport men’s soccer quarterfinals in Sydney, N.S.
The goal came in the 18th minute with an amazing pass from winger Sam Smiley onto the foot of striker Mohammad Jabar for his second goal of the season.
But it was really the Panther defence that kept the team in the game and gave UPEI the chance they needed to advance. Centerbacks Ben Keefe and
Jake Deighan combined with wing backs Jeff Moore and Jesse Cameron to nullify numerous attacks by the determined tiger forwards.
You could feel the tension increase as the second half wore on, along with the frustration of not being able to break the panther back line.
“I think the boys played a hell of a game,’’ said player of the game Ben Keefe. “We love coming out here and playing a game with so much on the line. It feels really good to get the win. We did a good job in shutting their strikers down. I think the whole team deserves this win and we’re happy to get it. Panther keeper Brett Strba picked up the well deserved clean sheet.
Stats on the day had the edge going to the Panthers with eight shots towards goal and five on target as opposed to the tigers having nine shots toward goal
and four on target with most of them being late in the game. The Panthers outchanced the Tigers 4-2. UPEI committed 23 fouls compared to Dalhousie 11 fouls. Dal had the edge in corner kicks 4-2.
The UPEI Panthers men's soccer team were still in the playoff hunt thanks to a 1-1 tie against the Acadia Axemen in their second last game of the season played in Wolfville on Saturday evening.
The game was as close as the score would indicate with UPEI drawing first blood in the 16th minute when Panther midfielder Sam Smiley notched his sixth goal of the season on a setup by striker Mohammad Jaber. It wasn't until the 35th minute before Acadia would draw even when centreback Cale Sanders let a scorcher go from 25 yards out that had eyes and found the left side net giving Panther Brett Strba keeper no chance. That ended the scoring as both teams pushed hard in the second half to get that winning goal to no avail. The Panthers showed grit in the last 20 minutes of the game pushing the Axemen hard however the result stood.
“I think the boys played really well," said coach Lewis Page. "We were certainly the better team in the last 20 minutes as we took the game to them and created enough chances to maybe get a win."
Stats on the game had Acadia ahead with 19 shots toward goal with 11 on target while the Panthers had eight shots towards goal with four on target. Chances were even at three apiece. The Panthers committed nine fouls while the Axemen had 13 and two yellow cards. Acadia had the edge in corner kicks, 5-3.