Montreal, QC – The StFX X-Men lost a close 2-0 game to the Carleton Ravens Thursday in the U SPORTS quarterfinals in a wet and snowy morning at CEPSUM Stadium.
X-Men head coach Graham Kennedy noted that is was a tough day to play and the conditions were definitely a factor. "In games like today you have to get beyond the tactics as it's hard to execute any kind of a tactical plan in these kinds of conditions so it comes down to who's tough, who's mentally strong and who can keep their head in the game."
"I thought we did a good job for the most part, there were a couple moments where we had some mental lapses and when you play a team like Carleton if you have a mental lapse then you are going to pay for it."
The opening ten minutes saw both teams testing each other out and exchanging possession, as well as testing the field out. With a light snowfall coming down, the field had a white covering and was slippery and wet.
The Ravens had an early scoring chance in the ninth minute when midfielder Dario Conte sent a ball wide left of the StFX net on a free kick outside the 18-yard box.
Carleton began to control possession midway through the half and had another chance off a free kick in the 25th minute as the ball bounced around inside the X-Men 18-yard box before the X defenders were able to clear it. Stefan Karajovanovic delivered a low shot on goal in the 29th minute but it was just wide of the post.
The X-Men's first good scoring chance came in the 32nd minute on a give-and-go with Dan Hayfield and Blake Fenton. Fenton's cross from the wing to Hayfield in the middle was deflected wide of the goal by the All-Canadian striker.
Hayfield had another prime chance minutes later on a cross from Tane Caubo but Ravens keeper Nick Jeffs came up with a big save from point blank range.
The Ravens came right back downfield and were pressuring the StFX defense on consecutive occasions but were unable to deliver a solid shot on goal.
Hayfield created a nice chance in the opening minutes of the second half, breaking through a pair of Ravens defenders to challenge the keeper Jeffs who made a sliding save to take away the ball.
It was the OUA champions, however, who found the back of the net first in the game. In the 54th minute of play, Ricky Comba capitalized on a StFX turnover deep in their zone to cross the ball to the far wing to an open Karajovanovic who easily deposited it into the X-Men goal.
The Ravens had another chance in the 63rd minute when midfielder Dante Cobisa's shot went just wide of the X goal.
Hayfield continued to be strong up front for the X-Men, he missed a low shot just wide off a Caubo pass in the 65th minute as the X-Men pressured for the equalizer.
Second team All-Canadian defender Josh Read picked up from where he left off in the AUS final, with strong defending and blocked shots in front of the X-Men net as he turned aside Ravens' scoring chances.
For the Ravens, Karajovanovic continued to be a scoring threat. X-Men keeper Seamus MacDonald came up with a big save in the 78th on a shot from in tight.
Field conditions worsened as the game went on as the light snow continued to fall, making for some sloppy touches but the X-Men pushed on, pressing for a goal.
The goal was not attained, however, and the Ravens scored a second marker late in the game in the 87th minute on a quick passing play in front of the X goal. Cobisa moved the ball to Karajovanovic who got it to Gabriel Bitar for the score.
The X-Men did not give up in the final minutes of play but time ran out as the Ravens hung on and took the win, advancing to the U SPORTS semifinal game on Friday.
Midfielder Dario Conte earned player of the game honours for the Ravens, while third year X-Men defender Sam Charron was the player of the game for StFX.
Charron noted that the X-Men worked really hard today. "We tried our hardest today, the weather conditions could be anything – rain, wind, snow – we were ready to play and give it our all."
Noting the close game throughout the first half and the 0-0 score, Charron said "once they scored we put our heads down a little bit but quickly picked it back up and tried our best to score a goal."
"Congrats to Carleton for moving on and we will look forward to our next game."
With the loss the X-Men are now relegated to the consolation side of the tournament. They will play in the consolation semifinal on Friday at 10:00 am ET against the loser of the UBC-UQTR quarterfinal match.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information