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UPEI men's soccer Panthers manage split on weekend

Nacho Sanchez
Nacho Sanchez

The UPEI men’s soccer Panthers got off to a text book start against the Saint Mary Huskies in Atlantic University Sport men’s soccer action on Saturday. A Nacho Sanchez zinger from 25 yards out found the top left hand corner against Huskey keeper Christian Oxner and went on to hold the lead 3-2 at the Panther turf.  

The Panthers came out flying and Sanchez’s goal, his first of the season came early in the second minute of the game.  

For the first 30 minutes it was all UPEI as the Panthers maintained high pressure on the Huskey backline. UPEI’s second goal came in the 23rd minute by midfielder Sam Smiley, his fifth goal in as many games on a nice setup by Moe Jaber. The only difference being Smiley’s strike was well placed just inside Oxner’s right hand post. The Panthers appeared to let off on the throttle a little after that but held on to the 2-0 scoreline to the end of the first half.  

Saint Mary’s brought the score close early in the second half as SMU fullback Dominik Gorski scored in the 60th minute on a goal mouth scramble in front of  Panther keeper Brett Strba. Then in the 75th minute, it was second-year winger Mon San Aung who roofed a ball in close off a rebound to bring the spread back to two goals in favour of the Panthers. The Huskies did not give in though and made it a bit of a nail biter towards the end in the 89th minute when Darien Rolle brought his team back to only a one goal difference. The Panther's hung on to win 3-2 and advance their record to 3-2. Panther keeper Brett Strba earned the win for the Panthers.  

“I got my goal,’’ said Sanchez. “It was part of our game plan to go after them early and hard. The ball just came out to me from Moe and I just hit it towards the goal. The top corners is where you go for when your out over 25 yards away. That’s my first goal of the year and it was a good one. I thought we played well. Our first half was definitely better, we had a lot of the ball and were good in moving it side to side and then looking for penetrating balls. In the second half you could tell the heat was getting to us, but we got through it.”

Stats on the game were relatively even with the Panthers having 15 shots toward goal with 10 on target, while the Huskies have 10 shots toward goal with seven on target. Chances favoured the Panthers 5-4, fouls were dead even at 11 apiece as were corner kicks at 6 apiece.  

SUNDAY

An early goal by UNB in the 10th minute was the difference as the UNB Varsity Reds squeaked by the UPEI Panthers 1-0 in Fredericton Sunday afternoon.

The only goal came rom a corner kick to the front post as fullback Joe Hamilton pushed the ball past panther keeper Nathan Ford who had no chance.

It was a game that had its ebbs and flows with both teams showing why they wanted the three points more than the other throughout the game.  

The Panthers started to usurp pressure late in the first half with some top notch passing but couldn't crack the Reds defense

The second half again saw swings of possession with the Panthers and having a couple good chances late in the game but without result. Credit has to go to the UPEI put together back line due to injuries for holding the Reds to the single goal.

"The second half, I thought we were very good" said head coach Lewis Page. "We passed the ball well and created some good chances. We kept taking the game to them on some tired legs after playing on Saturday. So I'm very pleased with that second half performance. No goals but that's football.

Stats on the game were pretty reflective of play as UPEI had 14 shots towards with five on target while UNB had 13 shots towards goal and five on target. Chances were even at five apiece. UPEI outfouled UNB 12-7 picking up two yellow cards in the process. The Reds had the edge in corner kicks 4-2.

The Panthers are back on the road again for week 4 with the return game against Saint Mary's on Friday evening in Halifax.

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