Hamilton, ON- Ed Bryan Florent’s return would be brief but dramatic. He had only just come on but he would soon make his mark.
The fourth-year forward was making his return from injury. He hadn’t played since Sept. 24. He subbed on for the final 8 minutes of regulation and extra time as the McMaster Marauders men’s soccer team were facing the Windsor Lancers in their final regular season home game on Oct. 20.
It was a frantic rest of the game for the Marauders. The teams were tied at one apiece as the clock ticked towards the 90th minute. Then, Windsor hit on the counter attack as Wilchrist Adbo found Devin Hernandez to put the visitors up 2-1.
The Lancers celebrated while the Marauders were running out of time. Then came Florent’s moment. McMaster pushed and earned a corner. Damiano Refosco whipped the ball in while Florent knocked it into the net. It was a tie game once again.
Florent called it surreal. He thanked God and called it a team effort with Refosco putting in a good cross.
McMaster head coach Tristan Joyce said they brought Florent on to give them something. He did just that. “I’m happy for him,” he added. “It was a really quick reponse and it was good.”
It might not have even happened. When Florent went out with a shoulder injury earlier in the season, Joyce initially thought he would be out for the season. Instead, the forward worked hard during his recovery.
He started doing non-contact training to get back to it. Even to get the feel of the ball again. Then he started training with teammates. He said his shoulder feels great, with no discomfort. He said he was happy to come back.
However, the process wasn’t without challenges – especially mentally. He said his mental health was very bad. It was the first time he’s had a shoulder injury. When he first got injured, he remembers it being very difficult.
Then, he turned to what he does when he goes through difficult times. He thinks about it for one night. He rants about it, speaks about it has deep thoughts about it and empties his emotions. Then he moves on.
When the injury happened, he was frustrated at first but talked with his family members and brothers. “We were able to find solace in this discomfort,” Florent noted. “After that, I was able to just trust the process and understand that it’s part of the game.”
Slow and steady. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, he thought. He focused on taking his time and taking care of himself during his recovery.
Florent set the Windsor game as his goal to return, according to Joyce. As game time approached, he thought about how he could try and help his team win the game.
“What can I do as a super-sub to be a game changer and to influence the game from a positive point of view,” he thought. He did so with the game-tying goal, salving a point for his side. It was his first goal of the season.
First-year midfielder Jacobo Crodon Cruz called him an amazing person – “just an outstanding overall guy,” he said. Joyce called him resilient. He points out how Florent continues to work hard over his four years at McMaster.
“When he strikes the ball on his day, it’s unbeatable,” Joyce added. “He works really hard to get to his spots and that’s exactly what he did on that corner.”
Joyce said he hopes Florent can have a big impact for them in the playoffs. Maybe he’ll continue to score big goals.
On that topic…the Marauders defeated the Western Mustangs 2-0 on the road on Oct. 22 with goals by Joseph Guindy and Sachin Sargeant. With the win, they clinched the third seed and will face the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the first round of the OUA post-season.
Crodon Cruz mentioned how they’ve had speed bumps along the way this season but is proud of how they’ve bounced back. “We’re always bouncing back,” he added. “We don’t really put our heads down and we just keep moving forward.”
The head coach mentioned how the players are banding together, training well and happy. He’s confident they’re one of the best teams going into the OUA playoffs.
“We’re really hitting these peaks right before playoffs, which I think is really really important,” Joyce said.
Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics