The UTM men’s varsity soccer team have advanced to the OCAA provincials, taking place next Thursday, October 25 to Saturday, October 27. This past Saturday, October 20th, UTM played their qualifying game against the Redeemer Royals where they dominated the game.

When the match began, it was hard to say who would be the team to take the win as both teams came out ready to perform. About four minutes into the game, Redeemer received a free kick just outside the box. Although UTM stopped Redeemer from scoring, Shawn Faizi fouled a Redeemer player immediately after this, resulting in a yellow card for Faizi and yet another free kick for Redeemer. Fortunately for UTM, nothing came of this. After these two early goal-scoring opportunities for Redeemer, UTM stepped it up and began being more offensive and getting more opportunities to score.

It wasn’t until the 21st minute of the game when Sanjar Kalrosh passed the ball to rookie winger, Mark Barbuto, where he crossed the ball perfectly to find fellow winger, Daniel Koszela. Koszela one timed it into the net, giving UTM the lead in the game.

Shortly after this goal, UTM rookie striker, Jamari Whyte, took a rocket shot in the centre of the field where it shook the left post and went out of bounds. UTM was working hard to gain a larger lead and close out the game.

With roughly 10 minutes left in the first half, UTM defender, Damian Koscielniak, carried the ball down the wing where he crossed it into the feet of Whyte. Whyte trapped the ball masterfully and beat two of the Redeemer defenders by making a perfect turn where he was then able to place the ball in the bottom left corner of the net—allowing his team to lead 2-0.

With Whyte’s adrenaline pumping and heightened confidence, he took the ball from the middle of the pitch and looped to the wing where he deked Redeemer’s defender and passed it towards the corner of the net. Another Redeemer player sprinted towards the net, getting there just in time to stop the score from reaching 3-0.

Towards the end of the first half, UTM began breaking down in the middle of the pitch but managed to keep the score remain 2-0 at the end of the half.

Roughly two minutes into the second half, the weather was unfortunately not cooperating. With dark skies above and the sound of thunder in the distance, the referee called for a 30-minute resting period to see if the thunder would continue. Fortunately, the weather held up and the game was only delayed 15 minutes before the two teams headed back out onto the pitch.

The delay clearly had no impact on UTM as they scored in the first 10 minutes of the half. UTM defender, Adam Czerkawski, scored his first of the game off a scramble in front of the net. Although UTM scored their third goal of the game, Czerkawski unfortunately got injured and was unable to play the remainder of the game. Eric Halar was subbed in and moved right into the backline and into Czerkawski’s place.

Moving further into the half, UTM was not letting up against the Royals. Kalrosh gave midfielder, Zimba Galloway, a backheeled pass to send him on an almost breakaway. The Redeemer player pulled the back of Galloway’s jersey, not allowing him to attack the net. However, UTM was awarded a free kick close to the 18-yard box where Kalrosh took the kick that was unfortunately saved by the Redeemer goalie.

With UTM hungry for another goal, the men did their best to pounce on every opportunity given to them. Roughly halfway through the second half, UTM received a corner kick where Galloway stepped up to take it. A beautiful cross found Halar where he was able to head the ball into the back of the net, proving his place on the pitch.

At the 75th minute of the game, Whyte was given the ball in the middle of the pitch. The Redeemer goalie was caught too far off his line where Whyte was able to chip it over the goalie’s head, making the score 5-0.

UTM almost made it the whole game with having no goals against, allowing keeper, Aaron Peters, to walk away with a clean sheet. In the 90th minute of the game, a Redeemer player crossed a ball that went past all of the UTM defenders only to find the foot of his fellow teammate and into the bottom right corner of the net. The game ended 5-1.

Co-captain, Jaimin Rehal, had a few words to say about his team’s exceptional performance. “We started the game a little nervous,” says Rehal, “but once the first goal went in, everyone’s nerves settled and confidence grew.” He continued, “we were exceptional for large parts of the game and showed exemplary composure on the ball in all areas of the pitch.”

UTM is preparing for their OCAA provincial debut next week at Esther Shiner Stadium.