Soccer, Sports

McGill Men’s Soccer draws even with Concordia

The McGill Men’s soccer team (2–1–3) squared off against rival Concordia (2–3–0) at Molson Stadium on Oct. 1. Though the sold-out crowd of nearly 460 fans helped bolster McGill’s strong start, the team could not hold on to their lead as the match progressed, ending the game with a score of 1-1.

The match started with strong play from the back line, a trend that has remained consistent throughout the season thus far. Third-year defender Julian Huster, who came in as a substitute in the second half, saw the team feed off the crowd’s energy to start the game aggressively. 

“The sell-out crowd was amazing, and I felt as though the team rallied around that to bring an extra element of effort during the first half,” Huster said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.

No love was lost between the downtown rivals, with physical play emerging from the opening whistle and leading to three yellow cards in the first half. Despite strong play from McGill’s midfield and defence in the first half, fourth-year goalkeeper Chris Cinelli-Faia had to come up clutch, with a fantastic save on a shot from the six-yard box.

Twenty-two minutes into the game, the crowd was sent into a frenzy when first-year defender Bilal Bouchemalla headed in a goal off the post, assisted by a beautiful corner kick by Reese Carlow

Thirteen minutes later, McGill was dealt a penalty shot due to a poor challenge in the box by Concordia defender Brandon Phelps. Unfortunately, the attempt hit the post. 

Despite the momentum and the team’s enthusiastic supporters, McGill would not convert again in the half. Third-year midfielder Bouba Ouane, McGill’s starting left midfielder for the match, felt the team couldn’t capitalize off the momentum of this goal. 

“The squad really had great energy after the first goal,” Ouane said. “After the missed penalty opportunity though, I felt that we no longer had the same intensity and this definitely contributed to the fact [that] we could not score again before half.”

Despite several missed chances before the half, the Redbirds entered the locker room up by a goal, the crowd still buzzing with Friday night fervour. 

Unfortunately, 11 minutes into the second half, former Western Mustang and current Concordia midfielder Mohammad Reza Nafar capitalized off a failed clearing by McGill’s defence, tying the game and silencing the McGill crowd. 

In a sudden turn, the momentum shifted to the away side. The Redbirds’ frustration was obvious, with four Redbird yellow cards in the second half.

Despite this, the contest ended in a stalemate, with the opposing squads going back and forth without any true success for the rest of the second half.

Although unable to convert, Huster remained optimistic about the team’s second-half performance.

“The ball movement, as well as the defending from the team in the second half was strong after the goal,” Huster said. “Even though the end result was not what we wanted, the team competed well until the end.”

McGill Men’s soccer hope to finish strong as they enter their last few weeks of the regular season—eyeing a top four playoff spot finish at season’s end. 

McGill plays next at Laval on Oct. 8. 

Moment of the Game:

Bilal Bouchemalla scored McGill’s first goal of the game off a header from rookie Reese Carlow, sending the sold-out McGill home crowd to their feet.

Stat Corner:

The rivalry match was a heated and physical affair, with a combined six yellow cards for both squads.

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