OTTAWA, ON – The standings said “Carleton fourth” and “McMaster fifth” heading into the match, but by the end of the night, it was clear why one team looked like a national contender, and one team looked ready to head home.
As night fell on The Raven’s Perch and a bitter cold swept over the crowd of a couple of hundred supporters who came out for the Wednesday night matchup between the Ravens and the Marauders, it was a tale of two team’s entering the game in two very different positions. The defending OUA champions, Carleton, entered the match on a high following a pair of wins over Trent to close their season, in which they won by a combined score of 12-0. The Marauders entered the evening supporting following a 3-1 loss in their season closer at home to Ryerson.
A quick start
Despite the cold weather, the Ravens came out flying; just eight minutes in as off a deflection in the box, former Valour FC defender Raphael Garcia managed to slip one past McMaster goalkeeper Tristan Joyce to give the Raven’s a 1-0 lead. Not to be outdone just two minutes later, on a four-on-three for the Raven’s, Scott Mazzotta picked up a pass and slotted one directly into the lower right court past Joyce.
2-0 Ravens before the clock hit the 11th minute.
For Carleton head coach Kwesi Loney, the aggressive start for his said was just what they planned. “Before the game, we always talk about planting the seed of doubt,” he said. “We always feel if we come out to be the aggressor right away, we start to tear away that fabric of confidence in the opposition, and I think we did a good job of doing that.”
With McMaster struggling to generate any offence, the ball stayed in front of Tristan Joyce consistently in the first half and in the 40th minute, a handball in the McMaster box off of Carleton pressure set up Dario Conte to bury it from the penalty spot to give the Ravens a 3-0 lead.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say we cruised through, I think Mac was a little caught off guard at the beginning of the game, and as the game progressed, they started to create some problems; I was happy how we managed it,” Loney said.
The second half of the night was filled with yellow cards as the game got more aggressive, with four to the Ravens and two to the Marauders. McMaster finally got one back as an Antonio Serrano cross was headed in by Dusan Kovacevic in the 81st minute, but it was far too late for McMaster, who fell 3-1.
The win pushes the Ravens into the OUA Final Four for a matchup with the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday. They may be heading to the enemy territory at Alumni Field in Guelph, but coach Loney is open about his team’s ambitions.
“At this point right now, we want to be the best team in Ontario, so we’ll take on any team that comes through.”