Men’s soccer team collapse
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
Sunday’s clash against the Capilano Blues was supposed to be the Royals’ chance to prove themselves as PACWEST’s elite men’s soccer team. A win against the CCAA’s second-best team in the country would go a long way to prove the Royals were indeed back in championship form. Unfortunately, fate had another place for them to be.
The Royals came out of the gates aggressive, and their ball movement spoke of a fast-paced offence that they’re so used to playing. Several deep drives by the Royals saw the ball by the Blues net, but the Blues’ defensive line was deeper than regular, having anticipated the Royals aggressive start. They would match their visitors, foot for foot. Their defensive stance to start caught the Douglas team off guard, which opened up room for the Blues to launch several counters.
Last year’s PACWEST men’s soccer rookie, Kristian Yli-Hietanen, has had a quiet sophomore year so far. But this game, he went off. The tip of the counter attack for the Blues found a way to poke holes all over the Royals defense. His first goal came off a steal from the Blues, which sprung him into a counter. Receiving a low-cross from his teammate, Hietanen slid into the ball to tuck it right under the top-left corner of the net.
Put under pressure of being swallowed up by the Blues’ offensive prowess, the Royals made a desperate bid to tie up the game. Taking the ball deep into the Blues’ zone, the team tried to hold it there to establish pressure and presence, but the Blues backline was just too good. Try as they might, the Royals could not hold the ball and establish their regular presence. To make matters worse, it would seem Hietanen was playing a poaching role for the Blues, and his defenders found a way to spring him every time. To make matters worse, the Royals defenders couldn’t lock him down. He caught the defence flat-footed and broke though the line by himself. Left alone with the goalkeeper, Hietanen put away his second of the game to put the pressure back on the Royals.
As the saying goes, the goal was the straw that broke the Royals’ backs. Demotivated and demoralized, the Royals did little to fight back against the Blues’ take over of the game. Hietanen would add a third goal to finish his hat-trick, and the Royals would go down to 10 men shortly after. Royals’ defender Matthew Pierre delivered a bad takedown after being caught off-guard by the Blues and was handed a straight red card by the referee.
From there, it would only get worse. The Blues capped off three more goals by the end of the game, while the Royals struggled to get out of their own half. The end score of 6-0 for the Blues is a memory the Royals will be wanting to forget. Hopefully forever.