Last Thursday, a frigid September night, the McGill Redmen (0-0-2) faced the No. 5 ranked Montreal Carabins (2-0-0) in the RSEQ opener for both squads. It was also Head Coach Marc Mounicot’s first RSEQ game with the team.
Throughout the match, a young Redmen squad played with tenacity and grit against a bigger and more talented Carabins squad. The Redmen backline attempted to set the tone for the rest of the team, refusing to be intimidated. Left-back Clovis Fowo repeatedly lunged into multiple tackles in an attempt to control the physicality of the game. Fowo’s initial attempts were deemed nothing more than fouls in the first half. However, the leniency that was afforded early on was replaced by a flood of yellow cards, one of which was handed out to Fowo.
The affair ran much like a hockey game; there were three distinct periods of flow in which either side took control. McGill’s period of strong play occurred in the middle third. The Redmen had, “more confidence, more flow [and] more commitment in the will of playing football,” according to Mounicot.
Two notable plays marked this segment. Freshman midfield maestro Michael McIntyre had a role in both. The first play was a dipping free kick that McIntyre shot over the wall that pulled McGill even in the 42nd minute. The second key play was a through ball at the start of the second half by McIntyre to another freshman, Alexander King, who put a well-placed shot past the keeper only to see it hit the inside of the post and bounce out.
Despite flashes of brilliance later on, the Redmen started out poorly. The over-zealousness of the backline led to multiple miscues. The Carabins’ midfielders repeatedly played balls over the Redmen defence and onto the feet of oncoming Montreal forwards within the first 10 minutes.
Mounicot characterized the initial play as “a bit shaky because of nerves and the quality of the opposition.” Aditionally, Mounicot noted that his team had to change its line-up compared to the last game because of injuries to freshman forward, Mawuena Mallet and defender, Dominic Bell, both of whom started the previous game against Cape Breton.
The lack of chemistry resulted in the first goal, a header by Vincent Da Bruille off of a cross by Samuel LeBlanc, that McGill sophomore goalkeeper Max Leblond, had no chance of stopping. Poor marking left Da Bruille with space to direct a powerful shot past Leblond’s outstretched arms.
Similarly, the second goal, conceded in the 51st minute, was off of another header. This time Alexandre Haddad connected for Université de Montréal off a free kick that crossed into the box.
Mounicot remarked that the key for the squad going forward involved, “getting all [of their] players healthy.” Veterans such as senior William Hoyle and talented freshmen such as Graham Kasper have yet to see the field, while Bell has only been able to play two halves due to injuries.
Mounicot also felt that his squad “showed[…]resilience and quality” that will help them achieve their goal of making the top four of the RSEQ. Realizing this goal hinges on the development of the nearly 20 freshmen that make up the roster. If the talented newcomers can mature and gel with returning players, success is not out of the question.
A determined Redmen squad compounded the tough loss against Montreal with another nail-biter against Sherbrooke University (1-0-1) by a score of 1-0 on Sunday. The Vert et Or played host to McGill and were able to rack up the three points on a penalty shot from Gwen Duguet with six minutes remaining. The Redmen now face a tall task against the defending RSEQ Champions, the UQTR Patriotes(1-1-0), in a home game at Molson Stadium on Friday, Sept. 13.