Antigonish, NS - The StFX X-Men defeated the Saint Mary's Huskies 3-0 in a full-throttle match on a beautiful Friday autumn evening. It was an excellent display by both sides that saw an equal measure of technical skill and physicality in which the three-goal margin slightly flattered the winning side.
In a game that featured four of the highest scorers in AUS play it was a credit to the defending of both teams that the game remained scoreless into injury time of the first half.
From the offset the game featured a number of heavy, but not dangerous tackles. Unfortunately for the X-Men, dynamo forward William Warren (Windsor Junction, NS) felt the full force of a Huskie tackle and had to leave the game. However, in his place came Mac Murray (Pictou, NS) who immediately put pressure on the Huskies defenders and looked a threat to score.
SMU's Cameron Zinn (Bridgewater, NS) had to be constantly on guard as Tane Caubo (London, ENG) made frequent attempts to get in behind the backline. Blake Fenton (Halifax, NS) and Alex Black (Dartmouth, NS) gave the crowd much to appreciate as they went toe-to-toe for much of the first-half down the flank.
While the score remained level, StFX had a slight advantage territorially and also in the time in possession. They had numerous corner kicks and free-kicks from dangerous positions, but the SMU defence held firm. The X-Men were finally able to make their set-pieces count with their final one of the half. Dan Hayfield (Exeter, ENG) curled in a great ball from a corner kick that found the head of Josh Read (Bath, ENG). The ball cruelly deflected of a SMU player and past the capable Kerry Michelin for an own goal to give the X-Men a 1-0 lead.
The second half was equally as riveting. Two X-Men sophomores displayed great calmness under pressure and skill on the ball. Central defender Lewis Dye (Fall River, NS) was excellent in reading the play stymying the concerted efforts of Tyler Dorey (Dartmouth, NS). Jordan Rao (Calgary, AB) was superb in the coalface as he made a number of great challenges and perfect touch passes to open players and set the X attacks in motion.
As the X-Men surged offensively, Kwaku Korandye (Halifax, NS) did a fine job supporting the back four to keep the game close. StFX's second goal also came via a corner kick. Jack Kennedy (Antigonish, NS) found just the right spin on his kick as it found the welcoming head of Read. Michelin showed great reflexes to make the initial save, only for Caubo to coolly deposit the rebound into the net.
With the two-goal lead StFX began to express themselves with Jack Kennedy becoming even more involved in the play. Kennedy, who was solid as Gary Neville in the first half, showed the form of the great Denis Irwin in the second half, and was fully deserving of the Subway player of the game award. Play increasingly went through him as his ability to read the play, make the correct run, and play perfectly timed and weighted passes, created numerous chances for the home side.
With the win, StFX move to 4-1-1 on the season and SMU drop to 4-3-0. The Huskies will face UNB Saturday afternoon in Halifax, while the X-Men will host the Université de Moncton on Sunday afternoon in Antigonish. Game time is 3:15 pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information