On October 19, UTM’s men’s varsity soccer team fought hard against the Sheridan Bruins. Although the game resulted in a 2-1 loss for UTM, this match was different. Players felt connected to the fans and vice-versa as the season came to a close.
The Bruins played an offensive formation, far different from their usual defensive stance. This kept the Eagles on their toes, specifically UTM’s Eddy Dabire. Dabire and Sheridan’s Jean Francis Mkomo had an intense face-off during the game. In the 30th minute, Mkomo shot the ball just inside the 18-yard box, where Eagles keeper Josh Bowman made a fantastic save. This was followed by Dabire kicking the ball out of the penalty area.
The defense also did a good job of keeping Mkomo offside. In the 41st minute, Mkomo thought he scored a header inside the penalty box, which only resulted in an offside call.
Even though the score remained 0-0 at the half, the game’s second half still had some action. Mkomo made two goal attempts with a header, but couldn’t follow through due to Bowman’s consistent pressure.
Sheridan scored the first goal in the 75th minute, but their celebration didn’t last long. Dabire’s quick thinking soon brought the game to 1-1. Dabire got the defense to pressure Sheridan as soon as the ref blew the whistle, which left the Bruins scrambling for help. But the 80th minute gave the Bruins a lucky break in the penalty area.
“It felt incredible to see the whole team comfortable with each other. We have definitely made an improvement from the beginning of the season,” Bowman says. “Sheridan had a hard time piercing through the back […] every goalkeeper loves his defenders.”
The men’s varsity soccer team is full of new energy. Rookies make up most of the team, and despite not making the playoffs, the team has done an amazing job. One of the biggest things the Eagles needs to focus on now is connecting with other teammates and learning from one another.
“It’s just a question of improving mentality; we need to play every game as [if] we have nothing to lose,” says Corey Baker, one of UTM’s assistant coaches. Next season, Baker expects to have a stronger squad, with better chemistry amongst the players.
Xiuneng Wang, UTM’s varsity rookie who moved up from the D-League this season, has enjoyed his time with the varsity squad. “I expect myself to improve a lot, put in a lot of hours, and ultimately get better.”
The outdoor season may have come to a bitter end, but Giovanni McDonald, UTM’s assistant coach, believes that the indoor season will help the team ready themselves for the next outdoor season. “The indoor season will help us build off of the mistakes we made in the outdoor season. And it will also advance the players’ fitness, since it’s a much faster game,” he says. “If we find a way to combine their elite fitness with our plays, I’m sure our offense will be able to get much more results in the upcoming outdoor season.”
Fans should expect this squad to grow and become the top team in our division. UTM has talented young players who will only get better. Time is the only thing that stands in the way of this team becoming a powerhouse.