Blazers Bounced By Pilots To Spoil Home Opener
Matheus Moreno scored his first MCAC soccer goal as a member of the CMU Blazers in the 58th minute but it was only enough to cut the Pilots' lead in half as Providence hung on for a 2-1 away victory on Saturday afternoon in front of approximately 200 spectators at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex. The visitors got goals from Jay Thielmann late in the first half and Austin Blackwell early in the second, to grab a commanding two goal cushion, shocking the defending champions.
CMU goalkeeper Reed Fitzgerald took little time to put his mark on his MCAC in his debut. The Rosthern, Saskatchewan product would be called to play the hero's early in the match after the Pilots were awarded a penalty kick in the 6th minute. The controversial decision put Braeden Owen on the spot with a chance to give his team the early lead. Fitzgerald read the play right, dove to his left and grasped firmly to the rebound to deny the Providence captain the goal.
The chances kept coming for the Pilots who appeared the more organized of the two sides in the opening 45 minutes, keeping possession of the ball and aggressively challenging the CMU defenders. The chippy affair saw the referee stop play on 9 separate occassions in before Thielmann opened the scoring in the 39th minute when he blasted the Pilots into the lead from 25 yards out, picking the bottom left corner of the goal past a fully-extended Fitzgerald.
Providence grabbed a two goal lead just 4 minutes after the second half restart when substitute Austin Blackwell showed off his pace, rocketing around the CMU fullbacks and sliding his first MCAC goal past Fitzgerald, and finishing with a front-flip celebration.
Caretaker-coach Cesar Carvalho, filling in in the absence of Anderson Pereira on Saturday, who shook up the CMU midfield and attack at halftime, seemed to find a more effective combination. His moves saw smooth-passing Will Anderson enter the game, while Ryan Jensen moved into a midfield role further forward and Victor Hugo shifted from left fullback into the center of the field. From 50 minutes onward, the three veteran began to run the match, combining with their passes and taking command of the game.
The breakthough for the Blazers came in the 58th minute after Jonathan Mosevula's shot attempt was blocked and the rebound fell to Moreno's right foot who capitalized from 19 yards out past with a first-time volley past a diving Justin Hofmann.
With the Pilots on their heels, CMU looked likely to find an equalizer over the final half hour, carrying confidence and the majority of midfield possession which had led to further scoring chances. As the clock ticked closer and closer to 90 minutes, the Blazers played into the gamesmanship from Providence, allowing their frustration and aggression to spoil the hope and momentum that Moreno's goal had helped create.
The game statistics saw CMU direct 9 shots on target from 16 attempts, while the victors managed 6 on target from 11 attempts. Each team created 4 cornerkicks each over the course of the match while 3 CMU players were cautioned to Providence's 2.
A home field loss was certainly not the way the defending champions saw their season starting and they will have to wait a full two weeks before they have an opportunity to collect their first win in the 2019 MCAC Men's Soccer season when they meet the USB Rouges in St. Vital who handed Providence a 3-1 loss in Otterburne on Sunday.
The Blazers travel to Alberta next weekend for CCAA friendlies. CMU meets the Medicine Hat Rattlers on Saturday before wrapping things up on Sunday against the Lethbridge Kodiaks.