A testament to their tradition of excellence, a 1-1 tie with Cambrian College on Oct. 10 fell short of expectations for the Algonquin Thunder men’s soccer team.
After Thunder midfielder Stephane Emard opened the scoring just a few minutes into the game, Cambrian responded quickly thereafter with a goal that was self inflicted from the Thunder perspective, involving a mix up in defence.
“It was a bad cut back. Our guy was trying to slide it out. He threw it across goal and they capitalized,” said manager Jordan Pagani.
In a scoreless game after the initial offensive outburst, a frustrated Thunder team carried the lion’s share of possession but couldn’t find the game-winning goal against a Cambrian side that bent but didn’t break for much of the 90 minutes.
“We failed to break them down. Going forward, we have to get to the gritty places,” said Pagani.
Cambrian didn’t record another shot on net after their early goal.
They were, however, stubborn in their final third of the field, diligent in getting as many players as possible behind the ball. It was a common sight for 10 Cambrian players to be piled inside their 18-yard box as the Thunder peppered shots into the bodies and limbs of brave defenders.
Algonquin pressed heavily in the final few minutes as the clock wound down. The shots that weren’t blocked missed narrowly, clipped posts, or were parried just wide by the overworked Cambrian goalkeeper, who left the game close to the final whistle after enduring the last of many collisions with Thunder attackers.
As the reigning Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) champions with an undefeated record in 2015, facing underdog opponents content to play a negative game and defend in high numbers is not foreign for the Thunder.
“They came in looking to do a job and they did their job well. We have to adapt to it,” said Pagani.
“Going forward, playing better teams, we have to finish our chances.”
With three games to go, the Thunder sit first place in the OCAA East Division standings with a 4-0-3 record, and have outscored their opponents by a cumulative score of 19-5.
Algonquin will visit Fleming College on Oct. 16 and Durham on Oct. 17 before closing out the regular season at home against St. Lawrence on Oct. 21.