The Mountaineers’ Men’s soccer team held off the Niagara Knights 3-2 on Wednesday at Tim Horton’s Field.
The game started quickly with an early goal from Niagara’s Altin Ibrahimi off a low free kick from just outside the penalty box. Mohawk equalized just a minute later as Hamza Salman swept forward to tie the game.
The end of the first half remained close as Niagara’s Ferdinand Lokole missed a penalty kick and the home team had a goal disallowed from an offside call.
A tense physical battle between the players, especially Niagara’s Lokole and Mohawk’s Daniel Kovacevic, lasted the entire game. Knights midfielder Joel Mariñas was shown a yellow card for a late tackle in the 52nd minute before the player said something to the referee to earn himself a red card instead.
Ibrahimi scored again shortly after his team was reduced to 10 players with another free kick, this one looping over the wall of Mountaineers defenders to beat goalkeeper Oliver Steinke, but the Knights could only hold on to the lead for four minutes before Luc Sabatino scored for Mohawk to tie the game again.
Mohawk came out on top through a second goal from Salman in the 68th minute, and Steinke’s saves against shots from Lokole ensured the game would end 3-2.
“We’re exhausted but it was good,” Mountaineers head coach Jordan Brown said after the game. “[It was] difficult and entertaining, and we’re just happy to get the three points. The guys worked really hard and they deserved the win.
“Hopefully, they’ll take confidence from the really good stuff they did. Hopefully, they learn a few things in terms of managing the game when we go up a man and go up a goal. Lots of positives to build on so we’ll move forward with positivity.”
The Mohawk players were fired up after the game.
“This victory was a clear statement,” forward Hamza Salman said. “We are determined to start a new chapter for our team with a strong beginning. I have faith in our coaching staff and teammates. As long as we maintain our commitment to training and matches, I believe we can have a successful season and establish ourselves as a competitive team.”
The Mountaineers’ next game is away against the Humber Hawks on Sept. 16th.