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Strong Weekend for Men's Soccer
Freemen beat St. Boniface 3-2 then fall 2-1 to the U of Winnipeg
Sept. 20/10 - The Freemen entered the weekend’s soccer matches with two goals in mind; keep the winning streak alive against an always dangerous St. Boniface side, and show league newcomers University of Winnipeg they will have to fight to earn a win against them. By the weekend’s end they were successful in doing both in character games, as they mounted a short-handed comeback to beat St. Boniface University 3-2 and followed that by playing the Wesmen to a tighter than anticipated match, falling 2-1 in the inaugural match-up between the two sides.
Saturday’s matinee featured a match against a much-improved St. Boniface University side. St. Boniface came out flying and took it to Providence early on, as they seemed to finally balance the individual skill they always own with a more disciplined team-oriented mindset. Midway through the first half they were able to capitalize on that, as a cross-in was finished with a beautiful header to put St. Boniface up 1-0. The goal seemed to waken the Freemen up, as they mounted several promising attacks, but still headed into the half without a goal.
However Providence was able to earn the tying goal early in the second half as they swung together a brilliant switch attack that began with the left-back and ended with Miguel Fictoria finishing a through ball five fluently efficient passes later. The goal sped up a Freemen attack, and freshman defender Caleb Thiessen started the engines on the second goal quickly following the first, as he sent a clearance ball up field that Fictoria one-timed to Brennan Wiens. Wiens then fired a shot into the net to put the Freemen up 2-1. However, St. Boniface responded by scoring a goal after the Freemen failed to clear a corner out of the box.
Some strange antics then ensued, as a few questionable calls, and non-calls, finally erupted into a defensive altercation that saw Freemen freshman Norvin Campos sent off with a red, while St. Boniface stayed at full-strength. But the Freemen fought through it, and mounted the short-handed comeback after Fictoria fed a pass through the defense that Mario Giesbrecht chipped over the keeper to earn the Freemen a well-earned 3-2 win.
“It was an exciting game,” Providence head coach Martin Ward commented following the match. “Despite a lot of distractions in the game we showed character to come from behind and win.”
The Freemen then followed that performance by hosting a University of Winnipeg squad that is playing in their inaugural year with hopes of moving into CIS competition. It was a much-anticipated match-up between the defending MCAC champions, and a fiery Wesmen squad that features MMSL players, former provincial players and even a former national-squad player.
The game opened as expected, as the Wesmen earned three early opportunities, one of which they converted, through their exciting play. However, the goal seemed to settle the Freemen side, and they started stringing together some of their best soccer of the season. The Wesmen continued to control the play, but the Freemen began to play great team defense, and mounted promising counter-attacks.
Neither side found the back of the net again in the half, but the second half flowed from the first as the Freemen played a brilliant defend-to-counter game that saw many more chances created. It wasn’t until late in the half that the Freemen saw their first real scoring opportunity as ‘Super’ Mario deflected an Andry Giesbrecht shot into the back of the net, only to have it called back on an offside. The Wesmen then had an opportunity of their own as they earned a penalty shot, but freshman keeper Kyle Perry stood tall to the task. But the Wesmen earned their second of the match shortly after as they finished a counter of their own. However, the Freemen stayed strong to their game plan and were rewarded as Joel Janke popped a brilliant ball over the defense that Mario finished with a sweet touch to the corner to bring the Freemen within one. Providence then almost mounted their second comeback of the weekend, almost putting away a corner on the final play of the game. But in the end the Wesmen left with a 2-1 victory in what was one of the most exciting games played on Providence soil in recent memory.
“We knew that the University of Winnipeg was going to be a very tough opponent, but we played our best game of the season so far,” Coach Ward commented. “Every player raised their game, and we learnt how to play well as a team. Even though we lost, it was a good performance and it’s a game that we can build on for the rest of the season.”
The Freemen next return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Brandon to face the BSSL’s triple-crown winners Inspire F.C. in an exhibition match. They then travel south of the border on Saturday to face NAIA opponents Jamestown College.
Notes: F Andry Giesbrecht played only fifteen minutes on the weekend due to injury... M Thomas Kaethler and D Derek Loepky both missed matches with injury...freshman M Norvin Campos sat out Sunday’s match due to red card infraction.
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