Last Sunday afternoon, the Eagles faced off against Niagara College Knights on UTM’s North Field.
Niagara posed as stifling competition staying on par with the Eagles for the entire contest. Though either team could have won, UTM had the lead 2-1 as the final whistle blew. Even with the win, UTM remains in last place in their Central OCAA division. However, they now sit with a record of 3-6-1, inching their way up the standings if they keep winning.
The Eagles opened the scoring in the 30th minute. The Eagles pressed into Knight territory and rifled a shot past Knight goalkeeper Fiore Costa. The goal marked the team’s tenth goal of the season.
UTM controlled the majority of the first half, creating chances for themselves in the Knights’ territory. When UTM couldn’t capitalize, Niagara would take the ball and run down the field, often only having a couple of defenders to beat. But they couldn’t put the ball in the net.
The Knights and Eagles would keep the score close in the second half, but UTM was able to hold the lead. The Knights had plenty of opportunities late in the second half, but couldn’t execute. They missed crucial free kicks and wide-open nets, seemingly beating themselves.
A lack of composure and unsportsmanlike conduct ensued nearly the entire game. A Knights defender was given a yellow card for screaming at the referee with profane language. There were many players childishly bickering back and forth at each other and even their teammates. When the final whistle blew, a UTM forward received a red card for a mistimed tackle inside his box. He was escorted off the field by fellow teammates because of the aggression he was showing towards the referee who assessed the penalty.
There needs to be a level of aggression to play a highly competitive sport, but if that assault includes demeaning the referees or other players, it’s time for an attitude change. Successful teams are disciplined and know when to pick their battles; they put the crest on their jersey above their selfish sensitivity. The best men’s soccer teams in the OCAA don’t have a red card to their name. Meanwhile, the bottom feeders in each division have one or more alongside their double-digit yellow card tally.
The Eagles will close out their 2016 season on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. on UTM’s North Field. The Eagles will have a fair shot against Sheridan, who they previously lost to earlier in the season, 1-0.