This past Saturday, the McGill Redmen (4-0) lit up the scoreboard in a 16-4 victory against the visiting Carleton Ravens (0-3) in an Eastern Division matchup held in Molson Stadium.
Over the past few years, Head Coach Tim Murdoch has turned the program into a powerhouse, overwhelming opponents with superior depth and skill. This overt dominance was on display throughout the length of the affair, as McGill proved outstanding in all facets of play.
Sophomore midfielder Christian Barker attributes the strong start to a renewed sense of focus and intensity following a rigorous pre-season.
“I think that we avoid complacency because of the depth of our team. Even when we put out the third or fourth lines, the guys are always hungry to get out there and play,” Barker said.
With the exception of a spirited first quarter in which the score was 4-2 in favour of McGill, the Ravens were muzzled in their attempts to move the ball up and down the field. The Redmen employed a zone defence that stretched the entire length of the pitch, and looked to contain any fast break opportunities in hopes of decreasing the likelihood of any easy goals.
McGill was able to combine a stout defence with patient attacking play that exhausted their opponents’ backline. In his first year playing for the Redmen after transferring from Lehigh University, attackman Kevin Donovan led the charge with a whopping six goals, pushing his points tally for the season to 14 and landing him at the top of the CUFLA points leaderboard.
With the way the Redmen have played to start the season, no team has emerged as a viable threat to challenge their reign as Baggataway Cup Champions. It appears as though the only way the team will falter is if they succumb to mental errors. After imposing their will on Carleton to begin the game, McGill conceded two goals in the final three minutes of the first quarter. From there, the crisp and precise passing featured early in the game devolved into ground balls and turnovers as time elapsed.
In one such instance, in the middle of the fourth quarter, Carleton capitalized on a Redmen miscue and raced up the field. The Ravens, led by Bryson Goodman and Jay Gallant, established a fast break and were able to score in transition with Gallant firing it into the net for his second marker of the night.
Co-captain Alex Rohrbach was able to shift momentum back in McGill’s favour as he responded quickly with a wrap-around goal—his third point of the night—squashing any hope of a desperate comeback.
With the exception of Gallant, the visitor’s midfielders were unable to create opportunities for the rest of the team. This was primarily due to the play of the duo of McGill captains manning the middle: Brandon Maclean and Ossie Long. Maclean, last year’s Baggataway Cup MVP, dominated the faceoff circle, ensuring that possession was consistently in McGill’s sticks. Long set the physical tone for the squad, but ended up conceding four penalties.
The last quarter also reaffirmed to the rest of CUFLA that the program is in good hands. The lineup, primarily consisting of freshmen and sophomores, was able to extend the final score despite playing significant time with a man down.
The game against the Ravens was McGill’s second of the weekend and the first leg of a double-header that took place in Molson Stadium. The squad made the short trek to Concordia prior to Saturday’s contests and blanked the Stingers in a 22-0 victory.
The defending national champions capped off a dominant weekend by brushing aside Nippissing 20–2 in an exhibition game. The victory is the 14th straight win for the Redmen dating back to last year’s regular season loss to Bishop’s University. McGill has an opportunity to avenge the defeat on Sept. 19 as they travel to Lennoxville to take on the Gaiters in a heavyweight showdown between the past two Baggataway Cup winners.