September 23rd, 2018...WELLAND - The Knights men's and women's soccer teams had a successful first road trip of the 2019-2020 season this past weekend while visiting Lambton College and St. Claire College.
Saturday afternoon saw the Knights women (3-1) shut-out the home team (0-4) by a score of 4-0. Taylor Major (4th year, Stoney Creek) earned herself her first shut-out of the season after facing just four shots from the Lions. Veteran Michelle Maecker (3rd year, Fonthill) got things rolling for the Knights in the first half off a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. Maecker and the Knights would end the first half leading 1-0.
The Knights continued to control the play through the next 45 minutes, with Terin Hultink (1st year, Fenwick) also popping one in off a free kick and Maria Gamba (1st year, St. Catharines) netting another one on a third-chance opportunity in the box. The Knights would go on to add one more in the 88 minute-mark from Julieanne Buist (1st year, Canfield), making it a 4-0 with over the Lions.
After last friday's loss to Mohawk at home, head coach Rob Lalama was pleased with way his team bounced back during a week of training leading up to the their first road games of the season.
"I thought we put in a good team effort today," said Lalama. "We controlled the game. Once we got our rhythm and adjusted to the grass we created a lot of scoring chances. The ladies put in a lot of effort in training this week, it was nice to see them earn the three points."
The Knights were on a high heading into sunday afternoon's game at St. Claire College. Coming off the 4-0 win over Lambton, the motivation allowed Niagara to dominate the first half of the game, with Buist notching her second of the road trip early in the game. Second year Katelyn Mix (2nd year, Gilford) also netted one for the Knights, putting them in the lead at 2-0. The Saints managed to sneak one past Major just before the halftime whistle, cutting the Knights lead in half at 2-1.
Pressley would secure a third goal for the Knights, which would prove to be the game winner, after a break-away pass from Hultink to beat the Saint's defender and up over St. Claire goal keeper, Alexandria Sampling.
Lalama is happy to be heading home with six points in his pocket.
"The first half we broke the cardinal rule and allowed a goal just before the half-time whistle," said Lalama. " In the second half, the character and skill of our team shone bright to cap off the win- a well deserved win."
With the two road wins this weekend, the Knights improved to 3-1 heading into the midway point of the season, and are currently ranked at number seven in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association rankings for this week.
The men headed into Saturday afternoon's game looking for their first win this season, after having a slower start in their first two home games. The road trip seemed to be just what the Knights (1-3) needed heading into the half way point of the 2019-2020 season, downing the Lambton Lions (0-5) 5-1.
The Knights received the gift of a goal by a Lions defencemen to get on the board first, with Simon Silverio (1st year, Hamilton) getting credit for his first of the season. The Lions would respond just before the half, with a header over Knights keeper, Romario James (3rd year, Bahamas) to even things up at 1-1.
Niagara continued to find the back of the net with David Bandura (1st year, Welland) heading a beautiful cross in the box from Dean Miller (2nd year, Port Colborne) past the Lions keeper to regain the lead at 2-1.
Knights forward James D'Annunzio (2nd year, Niagara Falls) would add two of his own to his team's total, converting a cross from Joseph Nognonhou's (1st year, Cameroon) through-ball, and again with a long ball from James to go up 4-1.
James would set up another long ball pass to first-year player Chavon Wellington (1st year, Toronto) to secure the Knights 5-1 win over the Lions.
Getting in the win column was a huge momentum changer for the men.
"It was nice to get our first win," said head coach Frank DeChellis. "Our young squad is working hard and moving in the right direction. Freshmen like Rhys Jones, Simon Silverio and Dawson Jordan are taking advantage of the minutes they are getting."
With the win, the Knights moved to 1-2 heading into their sunday matinee match-up with St. Claire College (3-2).
The Knights and Saints kept things on an even playing field through the first 45 minutes of play, rounding out the half scoreless. The second half seemed to be heading the same direction before St. Claire broke through at the 68th minute mark. The Saints would add another with 15 minutes remaining, handing the Knights their third loss of the season.
Head coach Frank DeChellis said the loss was tough to take, after battling for a full 90 minute.
"Today was a tough loss to take. We had quality goalkeeping from Romario James, we were in their goal area numerous times with no positive outcome and played our system as well as we have at anytime this season. We have every reason to feel we deserved that game, but soccer isn't kind to teams that don't score. I am happy with how we played."
Veteran defender Andrew Currie (5th year, Woodstock) echoed his coaches reaction.
"Today was a tough loss against a quality team" said Currie. "I feel we're unlucky to not get a point with as many chances as we created. We're excited to get back to training to build on our performance looking towards Fanshawe next Friday."
Both Knight squads will look ahead to practice this week, before Fanshawe College rolls into town friday night. Game time is set for 6pm and 8pm. Fanshawe's women's team currently sits a 3-0-1, while the men sit at 3-1.
For a full list of results and stats, please visit www.ocaa.com