The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
The Niagara College men’s soccer team needed just one win during their two-game road trip to St. Clair College in Windsor and Lambton College in Sarnia to clinch a playoff spot this weekend.
It happened but they’ve got their hearts set on a third-place standing. That’s still to be decided.
On Saturday, Niagara started slowly against St. Clair allowing them to score in minute 22 of the first half.
Despite a strong second half, the Knights were unable to pick up the much needed victory. The loss didn’t come without controversy as the referee kept his whistle in his pocket after a questionable tackle by St. Clair on first-year Knight Anthony Stranges.
“We started out slow,” said Stranges. “We weren’t playing our game. We had chances that we didn’t capitalize on and it hurt us in the end.”
Although they didn’t pick up the win, the Knights were happy with their strong finish.
“We had a killer second half,” said forward Andy Hein. “We outplayed them and out chanced them. We just need to play 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes at the end with a slow start.”
“If I was a fan, I would have loved to watch that game,” said head coach Frank Dechellis. “The only thing I’m upset about is that we didn’t win. We played well.
We had chances out front of the net. We had crosses into their box. We just couldn’t score.”
Niagara headed into Sarnia the next day refreshed and hungry for a win.
After a scoreless first half, Kyle Sheppard of the Knights opened the scoring in the 48th minute.
Second-year striker Carlos Williams added to the lead just five minutes later making it 2-0.
Lambton was able to cut the lead in half with a free kick in the 60th minute but that was as close as they would come as rookie keeper Sammy Robson, in to give starter Jordan Provenzano a rest, shut the door.
“It felt great (getting into a game). It’s a lot faster paced, more intense (than practice),” said Robson.
The Knights closed out the win and clinched a spot in the playoffs.
“We knew this weekend would be a battle regardless if we got the six points or not,” said Williams.
“With the win today, we secure our playoff spot but we still want to clinch third. That’s our goal,”
The Knights will enter the playoffs regardless of the outcome of their final game against the Mohawk Mountaineers, of Hamilton, but with a win they’ll clinch third place. As for their mindset against Mohawk? In Williams’ mind it’s simple.