SASKATOON — It was a walk in the park for the University of Saskatchewan’s men’s soccer team, as the Huskies coasted to a 4-0 win over the visiting University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in the Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Association Friday night at Griffiths Stadium.
It was the first game in almost a year for the Huskies as play was halted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They are one point behind the 1-0-1 win-loss-tie record of the Cougars of Mount Royal University, a 1-0 victor against Lethbridge last week.
The Pronghorns dropped their second straight game and will again play the Huskies at 7 p.m. tonight, also at Griffiths.
Despite the almost two-year break, head coach Bryce Chapman was satisfied with what he saw as the Huskies handled the match against their Central Division rivals.
“I thought it was a positive game for us. You know, we have not played a game for 18 months.
“The guys were excited. They had a good business approach today. We just need to tidy up some things and we have to be a bit better on keeping the ball in dangerous areas. But,overall, we’ll definitely take this on night one.”
Tobias Hyrich-Krueger opened the scoring for the Huskies, turning a Kwame Opuku-Adai assist into a 10th minute goal. Ahmed Mohammad, denied the first time on an offside call, struck in the 38th minute to make it 2-0 before the first half ended
The Huskies, despite that 2-0 cushion, did not let up. Pinpoint passing and pressing attacks in every ball possession forced their opponents to scramble for defence.
The Pronghorns also had their moments in the second half with second-year keeper Marcus Baxter foiling several of scoring chances, especially in the 58th minute on Lethbridge offence coming off a free kick.
Krueger was again involved in the Huskies offensive play when he aided midfielder Kuhle Bekwayo’s 51st-minute strike. Opuku-Adai added one more in stoppage time.
“We actually moved the ball well. We stuck to our game plan pretty good, we kind of moved away from it in the second half. But definitely it is a pleasing first start considering the potential rustiness. But that is how it is, [rustiness] is going to be there after a few months of not playing,” said Bryce.
He added they need to play smarter and plan to use a different approach when they face the Pronghorns again tonight with Lethbridge playing aggressively in the second half that nearly cost them some goals.
“There were some close calls. We got a little less aggressive and we weren’t balancing out our group of 11 and that left some gaps.”
“They [Lethbridge] definitely caught us on a few counters, so we've definitely got to be tighter on that [Saturday night]. We also turned some balls over in areas that you shouldn't turn the ball over, but that was maybe a bit of fatigue. Overall, it definitely worked off this first game.”
The Huskies had a total of 11 shot attempts against the three made by the Pronghorns, with Hyrich-Krueger and Bekwayo having three each. Lethbridge keeper Nolan French had seven saves.
In women's play, the Huskies dropped a 2-0 decision against provincial rival University of Regina. They will try to even things against the Cougars when they visit their southern rivals at the U of R field.