Men’s soccer takes its fifth in a row
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
It was a tale of two halves for the men’s soccer team when they took to the field against the visiting Kwantlen Eagles on the afternoon of October 5. With the sun making a rare appearance, the Royals ultimately walked off the pitch with a 3-0 victory.
“We came out very slow the first 45… the boys know a lot of those players at Kwantlen and I think they took them very lightly. We prepared all week to play a low-pressure team and I think our boys just thought they were going to hand the game to us,” said Paul Bahia, head coach.
While the edge in goal-scoring opportunities in the first half clearly went to Douglas, neither team looked particularly eager to take over the game. The first real chance came just past the half-hour mark when Dorian Colopisis ripped a free kick off the top of the crossbar from just over half. Simrin Rattanpal and Nicholas Espinosa then both had chances in the box on a corner kick, but both saw their efforts stymied by the Kwantlen defence. The only other action of the half was a yellow card shown to Douglas’ Haedan Turner for a hard tackle.
The second half saw a chance early on, with Rattanpal firing from close range, though the Kwantlen keeper was having none of it. The Eagles fired a long free kick at the Royals’ goal before the half was 10 minutes old, but Marc Mincieli was ready and waiting despite the lack of action he’d faced so far. Shortly after, Douglas’ Sahil Sandhu appeared to run onto the ball for a one-on-one with the keeper, but the referee blew the play dead on an iffy offside call. Kwantlen then saw several quality chances wasted, with three efforts flying harmlessly wide or over the goal. Then, about 20 minutes into the half, the Royals’ Tanveer Minhas received a yellow card after a tightly contested tackle. The goalless deadlock was finally broken when Shahbaz Khattra broke through the defence and blasted a shot at the Kwantlen goal; the keeper got a piece, but it wasn’t enough. Minutes later, Sandhu added to the Royals’ lead with a lovely touch by the goalie. The sun was clearly bothering the Eagles‘ keeper at this point as several balls were unconvincingly palmed away instead of caught for the rest of the game. Kwantlen tried to come back—their best opportunity off a corner kick—but Mincieli was up to the task. Khattra slotted home his second of the game into the bottom-left corner about five minutes from time to put the Royals up 3-0, and that was how the game finished.
“We should have had better intensity in the first half and tried to get at them a bit quicker, but we got the result,” said Colopisis on the game, before laughing about his long-range effort. “It’s supposed to go a little bit lower, but it was pretty close.”
On the team’s change from the start of the year, Bahia commented, “We’re finding ourselves. We’ve been playing around with a few systems… we’ve got guys like Sahil [Sandhu] back in the line-up… we’re just more of a complete team. It’s coming together at the right time. We knew it was going to be rough start; we have over 10 rookies on our team.”
Player of the game: Shahbaz Khattra (#19)