Hamilton, ON- As Miles Green lined up for a free kick, he knew he was going to hit it. The fifth-year McMaster Marauders forward had a shot in a then-scoreless game against the Windsor Lancers on Sept. 16 on a cool Friday night under the lights.
The Marauders had created chances before then – and would continue to afterwards – but they couldn’t finish. Until Green’s free kick. He lined it up and belted it into the corner as the home crowd at Ron Joyce Stadium erupted.
“I love free kicks,” Green noted. “Probably one of my favourite things in the entire game.”
The Lancers equalized as Devin Hernandez slotted it past McMaster goalkeeper Ethan Cagalj after a pass by Otis Vacratsis.
The Marauders continued to control the ball and the chances but couldn’t find a breakthrough until the 79thminute. That’s when Evan Mitchell found Spencer Chapple for the game winner. The crowd erupted again and once more when the final whistle sounded.
“I think we could have been more clinical,” Green said. “I think we should have been…we’re very persistent and we were determined to win the game.”
The Marauders outshot the Lancers 19-8 in the game and 9-2 in the second half. Green had four of those shots on goal (six shots overall). Green pointed out how finishing is hard to do. It’s something he’s always looking to get better at.
“I think it’s just trying to make the right decision and trying to make it less obvious,” he noted. “I think there was a few times tonight where the execution was a bit poor but the decision was right or the decision was wrong but the execution might have been decent.”
He pointed out how they struggled to get both the right decision and execution. It’s another thing to work on.
The Marauders created chances against defending OUA champions Guelph Gryphons the previous week but couldn’t finish. Green himself had six shots in their home 1-0 defeat to the Gryphons.
The work comes from practice, where they work on a variety of finishing drills and scenarios. “You’re not going to get the same scenario all the time to score goals,” Green said. He credited the coaches for working with one on one with the players.
Another thing that could lead to better results is the chemistry among the front line. Ed Bryan Florent, Amir Shirazi, Sachin Sargeant and Green all had at least one shot on goal against Windsor. “I think it’s been good but I think we’ve only shown flashes,” Green said of the chemistry.
Green said they know each other well and now it’s about getting into a groove with the season rolling. “As the season goes on, the more we play together, you’re going to see the chemistry’s going to build a lot more and we’re going to see a lot more results from the front four,” he said.
Those results came in the following match at Windsor two days later. The Marauders scored seven goals on 16 shots in a 17-6 victory. Shirazi had a hat trick while Bryan Florent and forward Andrew Kadhe each scored two goals off the bench.
Speaking of finishing, Green is entering his final year. It’s his fifth year at McMaster but fourth year of eligibility. However, he said it will be his last season as he’s graduating after this year.
“It’s weird,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I feel like it was just not too long ago that I was here in first year, just making my debut and everything.”
He said it’s cool seeing his progression as a player and leader. He came into first year and scored five goals in nine games, including a game winner. Green remembers being humble and learning from veteran teammates.
Now, he and midfielder Gianluca Spadafora are co-captains. Now they are the leaders for the younger players and the team.
“That says a lot for both of us for where we’ve come to where we are now,” he said. “I think that’s really really cool to see how that can happen. I can’t wait to see how these young guys are going to do the next couple of years. There’s a lot of talent on this team and a lot of potential.”
Green’s also grown in maturity over the years as well. He remembers being a raw talented player coming in. “I’ve learned a lot how to develop my skills and my personality to be much more calm, much more cool headed and understand the game really well,” he added.
He cited confidence as an important factor for him as he continued to learn from players and coaches to try and improve his game.
Speaking of confidence, the crowd gives him that. It’s where you can find his parents and his grandfather at pretty much every game. His roommates and friends are at a lot of games as well.
They were there against Windsor on that fall evening as he scored the free kick. After the game, he went over and talked with family and friends.
“Being able to look over and see everyone there supporting you, it gives you a really big boost and feeling,” he said. “It just feels good.”
Green said the fact a lot of his family lives around Hamilton is a big reason why he came to McMaster. “I’m really close with all my family,” the Toronto native noted. They’ve seen him grow as a player and person. They celebrated his free kick goal and the victory over Windsor.
The end of his McMaster career is coming within sight. The games are ticking down. “That’s scary and it’s exciting,” he noted. The Marauders have three more home games in the regular season, including senior’s night.
“I think it makes it that much more special every time I come out here, every time I step on the field to make sure that I’m giving 100 per cent,” Green said.
“Obviously, there’s not many moments left I’m going to be [in] the stadium and I think that’s something that I need to remember every time I come out here and I think that [family members] know that as well,” he continued. “It’s really good that they’re here to see me through this as well.”
Featured Image: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics