The only team that really won this week in university soccer were the Holland College Hurricanes, whose name seemed less of a reach.
Not really, though, since their games were postponed along with Dalhousie’s home opener against Acadia. My power’s only back on now, so this’ll be a very abbreviated recap of AUS play this weekend.
Hold on to your hats.
Cape Breton (W 2 – 1 v. UNB; W 1 – 0 v. UPEI)
Something looked not quite right in Sydney this weekend.
It was a bit the same last year, so I’m not panicking, but did anyone else think Peter Schaale looked a bit off, too? I mean, he scored–and it was a really smart goal, too–but the mistake that gave Ben Gorringe his goal was unlike the Capers.
What they did well, what they always do well, was the balance. At first glance on Friday, it looked like they were playing really intricate, and really missing Stuart Heath’s hold-up play. Then Schaale sprung play long and Cory Bent ran onto it and scored the winner.
I don’t think they’ve answered the lingering question about the partnership between Waters and Bent. Both made a number of smart runs, and Caelann Budhoo put in some nice crosses, as did Isiah Johnston in his first game. They looked like a team trying to pass it in, though, which is very un-Capers of them.
St. FX (W 2 – 0 v. UPEI; L 1 – 4 v. UNB)
Ignore the UPEI result, which should be mostly expected at home. (Though credit to Dan Hayfield for a goal 17 seconds into the second half.)
The rest of the weekend was all too familiar for St. FX. This was the kind of result happened sporadically last year, and it cost them not so much in the table as indirectly–they were never airtight, never confident. Then they lost.
The way it happened was familiar, too: lots of nice possession turns into an easy chance from out wide. MacDonald twice couldn’t hold the shot and Maximus Manhu had UNB ahead inside six minutes.
Hayfield had a good weekend, but I can’t help but feel the switch to have him slightly withdrawn is still half-finished. It’s not that new, mind. But while Tane Caubo does useful Tane Caubo things up front, he doesn’t provide much hold-up play. A lot of St. FX’s possession came in the backfield and, against UNB anyway, they passed themselves into trouble more often than not. The second goal was painful.
Same old story. Same as the power going out after every fall storm.
Moncton (L 2 – 3 v. Dal; W 2 – 0 @ Mt. A)
Inevitably, when I do my preview, I’m wrong about some things. (It would help if the rosters were out, y’know, before the games kick-off.)
Anyway, Jean-Michel Dako scorede for Moncton, so he’s come back for a fifth year, obviously. Good for him, and good for him getting on the scoreboard, even if it was probably offside.
I was right about Moncton’s tactical shift, though: towards the end of last year, they started moving the ball much quicker, using Felix Robichaud’s energy and Simon-Pierre Brideau’s pace. The latter didn’t start but he did come off the bench and cause Dal problems. The former was hitting channels all night, and Moncton looked over the top again and again against a slightly panicky Dal defense.
It paid off for Dako’s goal, and again late for Heritier Masimengo.
Some of the same problems reared up defensively, though. Christian Masimengo blooped coming for a free kick, gifting Dal their second and a good part of their third.
And for all their running, Moncton still struggled to control the game–Adrien Nagy was quite decent in his AUS debut, at least until he got sent off, but they do miss Saad Mersadi a bit.
Dalhousie (W 3 – 2 @ Moncton; postponed v. Acadia)
Another thing I was right about?
Obaid Hedayat arrived in AUS by scoring, in my view, the goal of the week. Not because it was particularly gorgeous, but because it’s the sort of goal that isn’t usually scored in AUS, at least outside the top couple teams (of which Dal may be one).
He was filling in for Kallen Heenan, playing alone up top, which is not the easiest role for anyone, least of all a rookie midfielder. But he got on the end of a nice free kick in, controlled with one touch, and picked the corner with his second. All on turf.
I’d missed Isiah McCullogh’s departure when I did my preview, and that will hurt Dal. The back-line was much less organized than I expected, though perhaps I should have given they started two rookies and Moncton put five up in this fixture last year. It settled down later on, though.
Memorial (L 3 – 4 v. SMU; L 0 – 3 v. SMU)
Post your rosters, athletics departments! (Might want to give them to your webcast commentators, too.)
So Memorial do have recruits–lots of them, including some non-Newfoundland talent. I don’t have time to dig into them now, but suffice it to say it’s a young team again.
I was harsh mostly based on the tactics and those, uh, haven’t changed. Neither have the results. Dropping two home games to a non-playoff team is a poor, poor start.
Saturday’s game was wild mostly because the Huskies struggled a bit to deal with the route one early in the season. By Sunday, they were ready, MUN put up three shots, and SMU put up three easy goals.
That may well be Memorial’s season. They don’t return home until Sept. 28th, for a double-header against Acadia at King George V Park. They’ll now need six points from that and probably some spoils from their travels, which is unlikely.
Saint Mary’s (W 4 – 3 @ MUN; W 3 – 0 @ MUN)
The Huskies do the same thing, of course–long balls–but they do it with better purpose and they have better talent.
The first goal hardly decided Saturday’s game, let alone the season, but I don’t know a coach who won’t take an early lead. Cian Tousignant-Osaidhail hits a nice diagonal ball, Alex Black darts in, and finishes.
It all starts off good, solid midfield tackling–get stuck in and spring the play, very much the sort of thing Memorial could build towards. Nana Korankye was immense at breaking pressure.
Last year, Saturday’s game wouldn’t have been a win, especially on the road. By no means did SMU defend well.  Difference is, they gutted it out (and some better luck helped). Then, they came back for the second game and walked off with a 3 – 0.
It’s a strong start, and if SMU can keep it going they’ll walk off right into the playoffs.
Plus, they managed to miss the hurricane. Smart move.
Acadia (W 3 – 0 @ Mt. A; postponed @ Dal)
Joe Iatrou’s on the board, twice, continuing his form from NSSL play. It’s Mount Allison, but still.
The real test would have come Sunday afternoon, but Dal’s campus was hit hard by Dorian and couldn’t have taken any more damage from Iatrou.
UNB (L 1 – 2 @ CBU; W 4 – 1 @ St. FX)
This is the exact same trip UNB opened with last year, when they a draw and a loss. So they’re already two points better.
The loss was a little worrying, in so far as it’s worth worrying about losing to Cape Breton in Sydney. Some of what I’d thought might work better for the Reds did not: they were still run-and-gun up top, but the backline struggled even more than it had in the playoffs and Evan Barker didn’t have his best day, either.
Ben Gorringe scored the other goal of the week, benefiting from a bad pass, sure, but he did a number on Peter Schaale and CanPL fans will tell you that’s not easy.
Sunday was a lot better, though they still found a way to give the X-Men rather a lot of time in their box, which led to an early and very preventable penalty.
That would be more concerning if the offense hadn’t clicked against slightly lesser opposition, with Tristan Nkoghe, Maximus Manhu, and Matt Quigley all getting started. Gorringe scored another, too.
Still very unsure they can do it against non-AUS opposition, though.
UPEI (L 0 – 2 @ St. FX; L 0 – 1 @ CBU)
This was not likely to be a fruitful road trip for the Panthers. This is a team that’s in it to make the playoffs–and maybe go on a run late. They’re not in UNB’s league in terms of expectations.
They were outclassed by Cape Breton, which is to be expected. Against St. FX, well, you might like to see more. The Panthers did what they do well: they hung in there despite giving up a whopping 25 shots, only giving up the second in stoppage time.
The way they gave it up though, like the way they gave up the first, was worrisome. Once the X-Men ran at them, UPEI folded like an old lawn chair. Defenders couldn’t keep up.
Either they have to stop turning the ball over in terrible spots–that’s the midfield problem again–or they need to figure out how to support the centre-backs in 2v2s.
Mount Allison (L 0 – 3 @ Acadia; L 0 – 2 v. Moncton)
Well, it’s not great.
But it is better than it has been. On the road in Wolfville, then at home against an attacking-oriented Moncton team–these would have been blow-outs last year.
This year, they were actually in the game, particularly on Sunday, when they kept things pretty tight. Conceding 16 shots against Acadia isn’t quite as ideal, but they kept the score within reach.
Progress is progress.
Hail Mary of the Week
I always enjoy watching the French-language radio commentary out of Moncton. Turns out “Hail Mary” works in both languages, and also aptly describes what Les Aigles-Bleus were doing.
It is almost football season.
If you have some extra time this evening, that’s probably your game of the week. Wild second half that saw both teams finish with ten men, a late penalty kick, and several mad scrambles at both ends for the telling goal.
What I’ll Be Watching
I’ll be at the Cape Breton – Dal game next weekend–come say hi and watch Peter Schaale.
Other than that one, most of next weekend’s games are should wins for the various teams involved. That should tell us a lot about how AUS is shaping up. It’s a short season–two weeks matters.