The Western Mustangs men’s soccer team emerged victorious from their home opener on Saturday as they defeated the Brock Badgers 3–1.
Both teams came into the game tired, playing the second half of a back-to-back. Adding to the fatigue, the game was played in sweltering heat, creating a spirited, and poorly disciplined, match.
In total, five yellow cards were handed out during the game. Western’s Mark Serjeant and Kareem El Menyawi were awarded yellows, while three Badgers — Andrew Baldin, Daliso Chulu and Jared Agyemang — were booked.
Despite dominating possession in the first few minutes of the game, Western went down early after Brock’s Arsen Platis found the back of the net in the tenth minute.
However, the Mustangs came back quickly, tying the game in the sixteenth minute. After a corner kick from Jeremy Arnold, freshman Kairav Juta elevated and headed the ball into the net, putting the Mustangs on the board.
After trading chances to end the half, the Mustangs looked tired and desperate for a break.
Head coach Martin Painter was wary of a second-half decline and looked to ignite a fire under his team with an emphatic and lively half-time speech.
“We needed to win today,” explained Painter about what he told his team. “We needed to be desperate today. Just to really dig deep. We did have some players that were tired and some players that fought hard, so we’re happy about that.”
The team responded with two more goals in the second half, courtesy of third year Christian DeVia and second year Luca Trivisonno. DeVia added his goal in the fifty-first minute, while Trivisonno finished in the seventy-third minute to ice the game.
Despite the victory, Painter was still critical of the team’s commitment in the second half.
“Consistency during the ninety minutes — we don’t play ninety minutes,” commented Painter. “We’re up and down during the course of the game. So we’ve been just OK, and just OK is not going to be good enough, so we gotta get better.”
While there is still work to be done in the eyes of their coach, the men’s team can rest easy after achieving their first victory of the season and completing their tough season-opening back-to-back slate, boosting their record to 1–2–1.
The team is back in action next Sunday afternoon as they host the Waterloo Warriors at Mustangs Field.