BY ETHAN KOMPF
The cold, overcast fall day matched the spirits of Conestoga’s men’s outdoor soccer team on Oct. 9, after a close 1-0 loss to the Lambton Lions.
The first half began uneventfully, with play taking place equally in both teams’ ends. With seconds left in the half, Lambton’s Richael O’Neill launched a header which nearly went in.
The second half saw the Condors’ play improve. Most of the play took place in Lambton’s end. Early in the half Conestoga’s Josh Demming narrowly missed scoring a goal with a header, but Lambton’s goalie managed to keep the ball out of the net, deflecting it with the tips of his fingers. A few minutes later, the Lions scored a goal off of a free kick assist to Garth Denys. Conestoga continued to have chances throughout the second, but each time they were on a roll they lost their momentum to strong Lambton breakouts or free kicks awarded to the Lions. Two Lambton players were injured and limped off the field in the half.
“(Our team) worked hard and played well today, but it was just one of those days where we couldn’t buy a goal,” said Condors assistant coach Andy Pownall. “If they do exactly what they did today the next game, I’m confident that we would win the game.”
Some of the players feel differently about their experience, however, and are voicing discontent. Conestoga’s record this season is 0-6-1. Despite many close games, they have not won a regular season game since 2012. Many players on the team play higher tiers of soccer and have received individual awards for their play.
“Having a three-year losing streak is outrageous,” said Matthew Davidson, a right defenceman for Conestoga. “It seems like we’re doing something wrong because we can’t pick up wins … We’re practising three, four, five times a week. Maybe we’re practising the wrong things or taking the wrong approach … The style needs to change. If a coach doesn’t know that … then maybe it’s a bigger issue.”
According to Davidson, the players and the coach have a difference of opinion. He said there’s been some argument about whether they should possess the ball or play a kick-and-chase style. Some of their worst games were played with the latter style and the ones where they possessed were closer. The coach prefers a defensive strategy, which works for indoor soccer, Davidson said, but it doesn’t work for outdoor. There was no focus on attacking until a week ago – eight weeks into the season.
“We all have the ultimate goal of trying to get that first win,” said Davidson.
“(We’re) trying to represent our school positively, because we haven’t done that for three years.”