Volume 92, Issue 7

Tuesday, September 15, 1998

here we go


SPORTS
 

Mustangs sock Mac in opener



Tom Baumgartner/Gazette


PROTECTING MORE THAN THE SCORE! Western soccer players put it all on the line against McMaster to help preserve the win.

By Asher Markham
Gazette Writer

The Western men's soccer team kicked off their 1998 season with an impressive three to "nil" victory over the McMaster Marauders Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs got off to a quick start when forward Ree San scored in the twentieth minute. San took advantage of a misplay by Mac's left defender as he broke free and beat the goaltender with a shot that would have made Brazilian soccer star, Ronaldo, look like a house-leaguer.

Six minutes later, center midfielder, Rich Yendall, got credit for a goal after a Mac defender deflected a cross with his head into his own net. Alan Hume closed out the scoring in the thirty-fourth minute when a free kick landed right at Hume's feet before he drilled it home from point-blank range. Although the intensity remained high throughout the game, there was no scoring in the second half.

The story of the match-up was defence. The Mustang defenders refused to be beat, helping goalkeeper Ianni Bendiner record the season's first "goose egg." Mac's defence, on the other hand, could only be described as sloppy. The score could easily have been doubled as San was robbed on two breakaways in the second half.

Although the win was impressive, the team refused to be overly optimistic.

"It's good to get the first win under our belts, but it's a long season and we still have a lot of work to do," Yendall said. "This was by no means the best game we can produce."

Yendall's feelings of a need for improvement were echoed by teammate San.

"I didn't think we played that well," he said. "I guess we got our goals and that's what counts."

Coach Rock Basacco feels finding the right combination of players to field will be one of the main challenges for him and his staff. They had the daunting task of evaluating 90 players during camp, but eventually got the roster down to 25, three days before their season opener.

"We threw in a lot of different players today and having three goals after the first half allowed us to do that," Basacco said. "Technically some of our passes weren't on and our control and first touch need some improving."

After finishing first in the league last year and winning the Ontario University Athletics championship twice in a row, the team once again has set high goals for themselves. Basacco says he'd like to win the West division once again which would enable the team to return to the nationals and attempt to dethrone the defending champs from McGill.

The goal will not be without its challenges, since the Mustangs have lost some key players. Luca Mancuso, last year's leading scorer for the Mustangs, as well as three midfielders and their starting sweeper, have all graduated.

"We've got some big holes to fill in the middle particularly, but we've had some players waiting in the wings to show us what they can do," Basacco said. "They're certainly going to get their chance this season."

The Mustangs now go on the road for three games. They return home for a match-up against Guelph on Sept. 26, where amazingly, they have not lost a game since Sept. 14, 1996.


To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998