UNB's Varsity Reds men's soccer team has lost their first game in 2014. Unfortunately, it also happened to be the first game of the CIS national championship, and the V-Reds went down 3-2 in penalty kicks.
It was a heartbreaking end to what looked like was going to be a stellar comeback for UNB, who tied the game in the last minute of extra time in the second half.
The game started with McMaster pressing hard. They scored early, when Paterson Farrell danced around the V-Reds back end to land a quick shot clean past keeper Aaron McMurray at 6:49. The assist went to Marco Gennaccaro.
From that point on the game went into a holding pattern. The Varsity Reds struggled to find their momentum for the rest of the first half but came out into the second determined to find a way to get on the board.
There would be many chances and close calls on both ends. There would also be injuries. Matt Mountney would leave the field with a banged up knee around minute 58. Oliver Jones twisted his ankle not long after. Steve Miller took a hard knock to the head around minute 90 and would sit out the rest of the duration.
Continued pressure and determination was rewarded for UNB when 1st team All-Canadian Diego Padilha found the net in the last minute of extra time.
UNB and McMaster hit the field for the two fifteen minute halves of extra time with renewed energy, but the score remained even and the game headed into penalty kicks.
Shooting first for McMaster was their goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo, who was stopped by Aaron McMurray. Victor Karosan shot first for UNB but couldn't beat Cavalluzzo who made an incredible save.
David Serafini took the second kick for the Marauders and McMurray made his second save. Robert Park stepped up for UNB and beat Cavalluzzo for the first goal.
Gersi Xhuti followed right behind with a goal for the Marauders. Marcus Lees tried to put UNB ahead but couldn't get past Cavalluzzo.
Farrell found the net for the second time and put McMaster up 2-1. Mountney, who returned to the game after some sideline rehabilitation, managed to get one past Cavalluzzo and it was tied at 2.
Kieran Doyle-Davis made his shot and the Maruaders were back up 3-2. Up last for the Varsity Reds was Padilha. He couldn't get past Cavalluzzo, and McMaster took the game.
UNB head coach Miles Pinsent says his team was definitely timid in the first half but poured on the pressure for the rest of the match.
"It's disappointing to lose at this level and in a close game and a game in which you were playing well," he said. "The shootout is probably where our injuries caught up to us. We had potentially three of our top five shooters who weren't on the field at the time of the shootout."
"Once the sting of this wears away a little bit, they'll be trying to put in some good performances in our remaining games."
Players of the game were Nicholas Vecchi from McMaster and Padilha from UNB.
The Varsity Reds play next against the University of Alberta Golden Bears at 11am on Saturday, November 7. The Golden Bears lost their match today against UQAM's Citadins 2-1. Watch the match live online at http://www.cis-sic.tv.