October 2nd, 2021...Welland - The Niagara College Knights men's soccer team dropped a 4-2 decision to the first place Sheridan Bruins on Saturday afternoon, placing them at a 2-3 record with just one regular season game left.
The first half was an ugly one for the Knights, as Sheridan piled on three goals to head into the final 45 minutes with a 3-0 lead.
Niagara came out swinging in the second half, but a bad giveaway in the Knight's defensive third set up a fourth Sheridan goal.
Niagara answered by drawing two penalty kicks. The first was caused by a daring Christian Buccella attack into the penalty area before he was brought down by a Bruins defender. Jeremy Petrusma buried the PK for the Knights.
The second penalty kick happened when a Bruins defender illegally stopped a sure goal by Sunao Yamamoto after he beat the Bruins goalkeeper 1v1 and had an empty net to shoot in. Yamamoto made no mistake on the subsequent penalty kick.
It took Sheridan all they had to hold off the Knights attack during the second half, but eventually hung on to the 4-2 win and continued their unbeaten streak.
"We respected Sheridan too much the first half and they made us pay for it," said head coach Frank DeChellis. "We were so worried about getting beaten 1v1 that it resulted in that happening anyway. The second half was our best 45 minutes of the season. We came out physical, focused and borderline obnoxious and it allowed us to have the ball more and play our game. If we had converted more of our chances and actually came back I would not have been surprised. We need to bring that mentality to our next game and playoffs."
First year forward and Welland native, Kylar Lampman felt his team got off to a sluggish start- something you can't afford against the first place team.
"I thought the game started off slowly for us but we picked up the intensity in the second half and proved when we play our game we are a high caliber team."
Teammate and former Reedemer Royal, Jeremy Petrusma agreed.
"We were in tough against a skilled and fast Sheridan team," said Petrusma, who was selected as the Niagara Knights Athlete of the Week last week. "After going down three in the first half I'm really proud of how the guys rallied and fought back in the second. It's that kind of work rate and desire to compete that we can build off as playoffs are just around the corner."
While the final standing are starting to fall into place with just one game remaining on the regular season schedule, the Knights find themselves sitting with a 2-3 record and third place in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) South division standings. Friday's OCAA matches could change the Knights playoff route should Mohawk (2-2-1) beat Sheridan (5-0), and the Knights beat Redeemer (0-4-1). That scenario would see the Knights finish second, and therefor host a cross-over match October 15th. Should Niagara win, and Mohawk -Sheridan tie, the Knights would still finish second. If the Knights remain in third place after Friday's regular season wraps up, they would travel to play the 2nd place West division team.
OCAA men's soccer standings and schedule can be found here.