The UTM men’s tri-campus soccer team travelled downtown to Varsity Stadium for a playoffs game against their rival team, St. George Black, on Thursday. It was a rematch for the two teams, who tied their last game.
UTM’s coach, Omar Jbaihi, talked to the team during their pregame warm-up. “If we don’t put in a consistent effort for 90 minutes, there will be no next game,” he said. “This is Ryan’s last year at UTM. We’re gonna win it for him.” Midfielder Ryan Tawil had been suspended from the game for having too many yellow cards in previous games.
The Eagles came out strong from the kick-off, keeping the ball in St. George Black’s end. UTM’s defence was standing close to the halfway line as a wall against their opponents’ strikers. Any chances St. George Black had to score were either blocked by UTM’s defence or stopped by goalie Akil Ladha. Ladha was spot-on between the pipes; he stopped shots and made great kicks to his midfielders, setting up some great plays.
UTM’s effort was rewarded with a goal by Sairam (Sammy) Montiel Landeros, who was congratulated with cheers from his teammates and coaches, and from the small group of fans who braved the cold to watch the game. St. George Black’s goalie, Mikhael Lamont, frustrated at having been scored on, began cursing at his own players; the referee spoke with him before allowing the game to continue. A few minutes later, a St. George defenceman shoved Lamont, yelled “Shut up!”, and ran back to the play. Lamont was not the only frustrated one on his time; the coaches on the sideline also got into an argument about their strategy.
UTM had a number of scoring opportunities, including two free kicks from the 30-yard line, but were unable to capitalize on them. Finally, just before the end of the first half, UTM’s Carlos Lopez scored a goal, assisted by Landeros. When the whistle was blown at half-time, the score was 2–0 in favour of UTM.
At the start of the second half, UTM’s Mamadou Tandia’s ankle was injured after an opposing player fell on it when they both went up for a header. This was the turning point of the game; St. George Black scored two goals immediately afterward, tying the score at 2–2. Immediately after St. George Black’s second goal, UTM’s left-footed striker, Antony Said, scored a goal with his right foot, putting his team back in the lead.
UTM sustained various injuries throughout the second half: Tandia’s ankle, Giovanni MacDonald’s knee, Daniel Araoz’s pulled muscle, and Bryan Bourguignon’s muscle cramps. The Eagles were able to hold their lead until close to the end of the game, when St. George Black was able to score a third goal off a header from a corner kick.
The game went into overtime. Both teams were hungry for the win, playing with intensity and arguing over almost every call the referee made. UTM’s lineup was changed due to player injuries, but some injured players were still on the field, as UTM only had two substitutes. The Eagles’ hopes for a tri-campus championship were defeated when St. George Black scored the final goal out of a scrum in front of UTM’s net after a corner kick.
UTM’s captain, Ryan Darryl Nu Nam Young, was disappointed, but was happy with the way his team played. “The guys played like a team. We played hard and we played for each other. We are a young team and we have a lot to learn,” he said. “The best way to do that is to forget this season and move forward. We have an indoor season coming up, and we just have to play the game we know how to play.”
The indoor soccer season will start in January.