The StFX X-Men went 3-0 in pre-season exhibition action in the past week and a half, playing to wins over Cape Breton (1-0), Acadia (4-1) and Moncton (1-0).
Saturday afternoon fans in Guysborough, N.S. were treated to an epic tilt between two of the country's top teams that was a pre-season game in name only. Both teams featured strong sides, even though the defending U SPORTS champions Capers were without top marksman Charlie Waters (Lancashire, UK), while the X-Men did not have the services of reigning U SPORTS player of the year, Dan Hayfield (Exeter, UK).
StFX started the brighter of the two teams in the game and controlled possession and territory. Early on Serge Dossou (Calgary, AB) had an open header and Caper 'keeper Ben Jackson (Bury, UK) had to be sharp. With StFX looking dangerous, Caper central defender Peter Schaale's (Bernkastel-Kues, DE) forceful and assured defending helped the Capers stem X's dangerous attack. The Capers' weathered the early storm and were not without their chances. Ten minutes in Cape Breton had their first corner kick and X-Men keeper William Venoit (Bedford, NS) was forced to make an important save.
The game featured a number of ferocious tackles in the middle of the field but the wide players of both teams distinguished themselves by showing considerable flair. StFX's William Warren (Windsor, NS) continued his great pre-season form with a number of fine runs and precision balls into dangerous areas. For the Capers Lewis White (Musselburgh, UK) and Cory Bent (Preston, UK) worked well together throughout the game and created numerous scoring chances.
Given it was a pre-season game fans might have expected a few changes at half-time, but it was same again for both teams with the one change being Seamus MacDonald (Antigonish, NS) taking over the mitts for StFX. An early Caper corner required MacDonald to make an excellent clearing punch and clear. CBU continued to press and an X foul just outside their 18-yard box gave the Capers a set-piece from a prime scoring area. Up stepped Marcus Campanile (Edinburgh, UK) and his brilliant strike cruelly rattled down off the cross bar but not over the line.
StFX soon regained their first-half form with young players Blake Fenton (Halifax, NS) and rookie midfielder Ayoub Al Arabi (Halifax, NS) creating numerous chances. In the 53rd minute Fenton provided the corner and rookie central defender Lewis Dye (Fall River, NS) headed the ball into the Caper net.
At the 60-minute mark the Capers made numerous substitutions, but the game continued much as before with StFX continuing to control possession and the Capers relying on counter-attacks when the opportunity presented itself. The introduction of X's substitutes saw no letup in pressure and the Capers were permitted very few opportunities to draw level. The X-Men's assured 90-minute display gave them a deserved one goal victory.
In earlier pre-season action, the X-Men played to a decisive 4-1 victory over Acadia on their home turf on August 30th. Al Arabi netted two of the StFX goals in the game with Ben Herringer (Calgary, AB) and Cole Suart (Ottawa, ON) scoring the others.
On August 22nd, the X-Men played to a 1-0 win over Moncton, also in Antigonish. Hayfield was the lone goal scorer for StFX in the win.
The X-Men open AUS regular season play at home Saturday, September 8th when they host the Aigles Bleus at 3:00 pm at StFX Oland Stadium. The UNB Reds will be in town on Sunday to face StFX, also at 3:00 pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information