Tyler Hayward / Senior Photo Editor

Fraser Caldwell

Sports Editor

If the Marauders were looking for a nemesis, they seem to have found one in the unlikely form of the UOIT Ridgebacks.

Having held the high-powered offence of the Maroon and Grey off the score sheet earlier this season en route to a 0-0 draw, the OUA West doormats repeated the feat on their home turf on Oct. 16.

The result represented a sharp reversal of fortunes for the Marauders, who had handily beaten the Brock Badgers by a 5-0 score at Ron Joyce only two days prior.

The four points garnered over the course of the weekend maintained McMaster’s position in second place in the OUA West standings, and convinced CIS voters to move the Maroon and Grey up a spot to sixth in the national top ten.

But the Marauders are hardly happy to have managed only a single point against the OUA’s worst team for a second straight time.

Speaking in the wake of the weekend matches, team captain Anthony Costa argued that the Oct. 16 result was less a product of a lack of effort than a simple lack of a cutting edge in front of goal.

“It was unlucky,” Costa said of the result. “I mean, it’s the worst pitch in the league but there are no excuses, we still didn’t play our game. We had to vary from our possession style that we use well against teams.

“We had to play a little more direct and switch to a 4-4-2 for some more natural width and a couple of guys up front to try and finish. It wasn’t so much a matter of slack on our part. But it was too bad because it came after a nice 5-0 win at home. So those are points we would have loved to have.”

The UOIT draw reinforces the growing notion that the Marauders may unwittingly be tailoring their play to their opponents, as they famously played up to the level of the national champion York Lions, and have disastrously dropped their level of play against lesser opponents such as the Ridgebacks.

When asked whether he believed that his squad was guilty of playing down to the Oshawa-based team over the weekend, Costa suggests that results seem to speak for themselves.

“On a personal level, I know that I don’t, and it doesn’t seem like we do on the collective level,” said the captain. “But having said that, if we played up to York and came away with a victory, that’s the level that needs to be brought every time. If we can knock off the number one team in the country, why can’t we do that to everyone else?

“Sometimes it’s not that easy, because the ball doesn’t bounce your way. In our mindset I don’t think we play down to teams, but on the field sometimes maybe you relax and assume that you’ll score, and then the 90th minute rolls around and you haven’t.”

With the playoffs only two matches away, and the Marauders practically assured of a home quarterfinal, Costa is adamant that his squad needs only to maintain their current form and attitude to succeed.

“Things are looking up, and we’ve just got to stay sharp and keep our feet on the ground,” said the fifth-year senior. “Because if we play our game and think the way we have, then I don’t think we’ll have a problem.”

Costa and his teammates will have the opportunity to close their season in style this coming weekend, as they welcome the Waterloo Warriors to Ron Joyce Stadium on Oct. 21, before travelling to Laurier to take on the Golden Hawks in their final regular season tilt on Oct. 23.

The Friday night home contest will kick off at 8:15 p.m.

The men's soccer team entered the CIS top-10 after toppling the no. 1 York Lions

Brandon Meawasige

Assistant Sports Editor

Stepping onto the practice field Tuesday night, members of the McMaster men’s soccer team could be heard exclaiming “We’re ranked! We’re ranked!” among various other expletives and confident words.

The men are jubilant for good reason as well; the Marauders are the newest members of the 2011 CIS top ten national men’s soccer rankings, coming in at no. 7.

McMaster earned the honor after becoming the first team to defeat the defending national champion York Lions this season. The two teams faced off last Friday at Ron Joyce with the maroon and grey shutting out their heavyweight opponent 2-0.

"It was a great result, we worked hard preparing for the game, it was good to go out there and beat the best team in the country, we worked hard and it was good to show everyone in the OUA that we can compete at this level, it is good for us," fourth-year goalkeeper Matt Grant said this week at practice.

The Marauders not only physically outmatched the Lions, but mentally as well.

"We got a red card early, and it ended up being a scrappy game. They were getting frustrated; we out played them the whole game. I don't think they were expecting a close game from us, because they usually go out there with the confidence of being the best team in the country," said Grant.

The Marauders have gained a tremendous confidence from the York victory, and they tried to take that swagger to the field against the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday at home.

Unfortunately, the game did not yield a result that would continue the jubilance. After 90 minutes of good soccer and a beautiful Guelph strike, the game ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw.

"Guelph was a missed opportunity for us to jump ahead in the standings, which are very close. First and third place are separated by four points,” said Grant.

The Marauders may even be further ahead in the standings if not for a mid season draw with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks. However during that game McMaster was missing some key players including team Captain Anthony Costa, who scored against York, surely contributing to the 0 - 0 draw.

After that game, Costa offered a prediction for the upcoming trip to Oshawa to play an away game at UOIT. Surely looking to send a message, Costa shared his feelings on the upcoming rematch.

“I’ll say this, when we go over there, it is going to be a completely different story,” Costa warned.

With only four games remaining on the schedule against traditionally softer opponents, Costa and the rest of the team have a chance to solidify themselves atop the OUA West and possibly even climb the National rankings.

"It’s great to be nationally ranked through the middle of the season. It’s a great feeling. We’ll be looking to continue to climb the rankings and prove to the country that were not a one-trick pony," said Grant.

Although the triumph marks large step in the right direction, beating the defending national champions during the season is different from a national championship.

The fact of a win like that however, is now the team carries with it the expectations that come with entering the picture as a national powerhouse.

Whether the team can live up to the bar they have set for themselves is a completely different story. One that will continue to write itself as the regular season concludes and the daring road to the championship begins. Playing each of the remaining teams once earlier in the season, the Marauders have scored 13 goals allowing only one in those four games.

Up next for McMaster are the Brock Badgers whom they will host this Friday, Oct. 14 at Ron Joyce Stadium. Last time the two teams faced off in St. Catharines, the Marauders looked like a championship contender, winning 4-1.

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