Hamilton, ON- Miles Green has had many moments at Ron Joyce Stadium. The fifth-year forward and his teammates had another one on Oct. 23 as the McMaster Marauders men’s soccer team beat the Laurier Golden Hawks 4-1.
It was seniors day as the Marauders honoured Green, Ethan Krenos, Sean Ross, Julian Sanchez and Sam Richardson before the game.
“It was a great day for the seniors,” McMaster head coach Chris Markou said. “They got an opportunity to share their experiences here at Mac the last four or five years. They were really looking forward to playing their seniors day, last game of the season.”
With a win, the Marauders would clinch a bye into the OUA quarterfinals. The game started slowly offensively as both sides didn’t create many chances.
Out of rhythm, Markou called it. However, just before halftime, Green passed the ball to forward Sachin Sargeant who scored from the side of the net.
“When [Green] gets the chance, he likes to switch the field,” Sargeant noted. “I knew he was going to switch it to my side of the field and it just dropped in the box. It ended up being a tough one but I was able to get it on net.”
Markou said those type of goals are usually game killers. At halftime, the Marauders switched up their formation to force Laurier to play out wide instead of in the middle. Sargeant said the team was calmer and took more time on the ball.
The change paid off as it gave them confidence defensively, according to Markou. Justin Baker scored to make it 2-0. Green also scored two goals of his own with shots that curled past the diving goalkeeper. Laurier’s Mason Carter added a goal to make the final score 4-1.
Green said before he’s trying to enjoy every moment of his final season. After he scored his first goal, he went to celebrate with his friends in the stands.
“Part of today was him enjoying the moment,” Markou noted. “There was a calmness he had today in regards to how he prepared and how he played.”
The head coach saw Green’s excitement for seniors day. Green talked about how much he was looking forward to it and shared stories of his McMaster career with his teammates about how quickly the years go by. “It was a really emotional day for him,” Markou said.
Markou said he hopes performances like Sunday’s will carry him to bigger and better things. He hopes Canadian Premier League teams take a look at Green. “He’s the most natural finisher I’ve seen in many years being involved in soccer,” he added. “No one hits the ball better than Miles Green.”
Green finished with a team-leading six goals this season. Sargeant credited Green’s confidence. “He always believes he can score, which you need in a team,” he noted. “He’s got a great left foot as well. When he gets the ball outside the box, you know he’s a threat.”
The Marauders as a team are a threat in the OUA. After losing to York, they’ve won three straight games going into the playoffs to finish second in the OUA West.
The team is also getting healthier as well. At the start of the season, McMaster had several players out with injuries – including five defenders. Now, almost the whole squad (except for forward Ed Byran Florent) are healthy.
“With a full squad, we can change it up if things aren’t going our way,” Sargeant said. The bye will give them a few more days between games as well.
What do the Marauders take into the playoffs? Chemistry, according to Markou. He said the players like spending time together and will fight for each other.
“This is a true team,” he noted. “That for me will get you points in tough games and when you go into the playoffs when level of competition now gets really serious, I think they’ll be in the right frame of mind.”
McMaster has pulled out some close victories – against Windsor, Waterloo and Brock. They’ve held the defending OUA champion Guelph Gryphons to a draw and faced the number one ranked York Lions, losing 3-0.
They can draw on their experience in finding ways to win close games. “Even though we’ve not played at our best, we found ways to win, whether that’s lucky or just keeping at it like today,” Sargeant said.
He said the key is to keep their focus and not be affected by the other team. That focus could be crucial as McMaster will host the winner of the playoff game between the Brock Badgers and Guelph Gryphons at Ron Joyce Stadium on Oct. 29.
The Marauders come into the post-season having won seven of their past eight games. It’s a group with many new players and a new head coach. It’s a group that has gelled and improved together over the course of the season.
“These guys are just riding a wave,” Markou said. “They’re really really taking it in.”
Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics