The Niagara Knights men's soccer program (6-1-1, 2nd OCAA West) continued their historic season Tuesday night in their victory over the Redeemer Royals (4-2-2, 3rd OCAA West) as they extended their winning streak to three games.
Harrison Fyke (Ridgeway) scored his first goal as a Knight, opening the scoring in the 26th minute as he hammered home a shot off the crossbar and into the net.
After taking their 1-0 lead into the break, it was all Niagara in the second-half as Oti Frigole (St. Catharines) scored to make it 2-0 in the 51st minute. Frigole wasn't finished there, however, as he continued his impressive season by making history.
After scoring his second goal of the game in the 62nd minute, Frigole finished off his first career OCAA hat-trick and became the Niagara Knights record-holder for single season goals. The previous record, which was eight, was set by former Knight Matt Miedema back in 2009.
Four goals we're plenty for the Knights as goalkeeper Nolan Bradshaw (Niagara Falls) stopped everything that Redeemer threw on net to pick up his first clean sheet of the year. The clean sheet was the team's third of the season, which tied a program record set in 2016.
The 4-0 victory was the Knights 6th victory of the season, and they are now one win away from breaking the program's single-season wins record which was set just a year ago.
"Nolan was solid in net for us tonight," said Knights Head Coach Frank DeChellis. "It was a good night for the team and for Nolan himself. To secure a clean sheet in a big game like tonight can only motivate him to keep working and gives the team more comfort with our goalkeeping duo."
The victory was huge for the Knights as they secured a five-point cushion over the Royals in the OCAA West standings. A loss would have seen Redeemer leap-frog them, dropping them into third place.
A major force in the victory was regaining one of their key players; veteran player Alex Latham (Welland). After returning from an injury that sidelined him, Latham was solid in his season debut and his skill and leadership helped increase team chemistry on the field.
"It was really nice to be back on the field with my teammates," said Latham on his season debut. "We played a really good team tonight and I'm proud to finally be able to contribute once again."
DeChellis was thrilled to have Latham's veteran leadership back on the pitch.
"It was nice to see Shaggy [Latham] back. It was a long road back [from his injury] and he worked hard getting himself back to this level. He trusted our team Athletic Therapist, Amy Kasubeck, and the coaches with his injury and rehab and it paid off for him."
Overall, it was an all-around terrific effort by the entire Knights' team in one of the most pivotal matches of the season. The solid play by the midfielders and the strong performances from the defending line didn't go unnoticed by anyone.
"The leadership and work rate by our midfielders tonight was nothing short of spectacular," said DeChellis. "Jordi Amores (St. Catharines), Jacob Therrien (Welland) and Harrison Fyke made sure the rest of the team had the support they needed in all parts of the field. They spread the ball all over the place and we had Redeemer on the run the whole match."
The Niagara Knights will travel to London on Tuesday, October 9th to take on the Fanshawe Falcons (6-0-1, 1st OCAA West). The match is set to begin at 4pm.