McGill men’s soccer (2–3–3) returned to action with a victory against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins (2–3–2) on Sept. 27, ending a three-game winless streak. McGill remained composed in an intense game that featured over 30 fouls and six yellow cards. Third-year forward Dalen Saheb led the way with a goal and an assist in the critical 2–1 Homecoming win for McGill.
“It was pretty important to get the win,” fourth-year forward Mehdi Ibn-Brahim said after the game. “We’re definitely desperate for points to get into the playoffs, and for sure the crowd helped us win. We are definitely pushing closer to the playoffs now, and we are in contention.”
McGill set the tone for the match early on, putting relentless pressure on the Citadins’ backline and keeping the ball almost exclusively in the opponent’s half. By the 10th minute, the Citadins keeper had already made four saves, and McGill continued to control the possession and create chances for the rest of the half. UQAM did give McGill the occasional scare, however, as the ball nearly found the back of the net in the 39th minute when a long-range effort hit the post before the follow up narrowly glanced wide and went out for a goal kick. This served as a wake up call for McGill: Less than a minute later, second-year forward Florian Bettelli latched onto a through pass from Saheb and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper, giving the home side a 1–0 lead. McGill continued to push forward, but found themselves up by only one at the break.
The second half proved to be a very different story, as it was the Citadins who came out firing and kept the ball in the McGill half for the first 20 minutes of play. UQAM found success attacking on the left wing, forcing McGill’s defence to deal with a multitude of crosses and shots. The Citadins looked likely to score, but, in the 74th minute, McGill struck back. A series of intricate passes down the left flank resulted in third-year midfielder Cameron Butterfield being brought down in the box. Saheb stepped up and converted the penalty, extending the lead to 2–0. UQAM later scored on a penalty of their own, but it was not enough as McGill held on for the 2–1 victory.
With the win, McGill moved up to third place in the league, but only one point separates them from sixth place Concordia. Head Coach Marc Mounicot stressed the importance of every match heading into playoffs.
“I told them before the game that [for] every game we play until the end of the season, a loss [means] we will stay in the bottom, and a win will give us a chance to go back in competition for playoffs,” Mounicot said. “Every game will be a war.”
McGill men’s soccer will look to carry their momentum through their last five games of the regular season as they continue to push for a playoff berth. They play next on Oct. 3 at Percival Molson Stadium against Concordia.
Moment of the Game:
Third-year midfielder Cameron Butterfield was fouled after a counter-attack on the left wing, which led to third-year forward Dalen Saheb scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.
“Some of them defended like lions today.” – Head Coach Marc Mounicot on his team’s stellar defensive performance.
By the tenth minute, McGill had registered an impressive five shots, forcing UQAM’s keeper into four saves.