LONDON, Ont. – A two-goal second half comeback helped the Western Mustangs men's soccer team earn a 2-2 draw against the Guelph Gryphons on Wednesday night at Mustangs Field.
"We had three rookies in the back in the defence because we lost two of our starting defenders, but we're very proud about what the young guys did," said Western head coach Rock Basacco. "[Guelph] took advantage of it and got a couple of quick goals on us, but overall I'm really proud about how the boys fought back."
With the tie the Mustangs now hold an 0-1-1 record early in the OUA season, while the Gryphons stand at 1-1-1.
Western's second half surge was powered by goals from James O'Callaghan and Will Barrie, who converted two of the Mustangs nine shots on goal into points on the scoreboard to give the Mustangs the draw.
Although Western held the edge in scoring in the final 45 minutes it was the Gryphons who controlled the board in the first, scoring two goals in the first six minutes to take an early 2-0 lead with goals from Ethan Danielli and Jace Kotsopoulos.
Despite a two goal lead for Guelph, possession of the ball was not so one sided as the teams had fairly balanced possession. A few fouls against Guelph, including a yellow card given to Guelph's Zachary Rushe, gave Western a few nice opportunities on Guelph's Ben Caranci, but none were able to get through, giving the Gryphons a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Heading into the second half, the Mustangs came out hot hoping to catch up to the Gryphons. At the 59-minute mark, a nicely placed corner by Mark Sarjeant allowed defender O'Callaghan to volley the ball into the Guelph mesh, shrinking the gap in the to one. Later in the half, a foul for the Gryphons resulted in a kick near the corner flag. For another assist, Sarjeant played the ball like a corner kick allowing Barrie to finish the play with a header into the net.
"I nicked it off Jason Graham. He was going to head that in, and I took it off my face," said Barrie. "Stole it from him. We'll take it. We'll take any goal we can get."
With momentum on their side the Mustangs nearly took the lead in the 89th minute when Sarjeant fired what appeared to be the game-winning shot from outside the 18, however it bounced off the crossbar to keep the contest tied at 2-2.
The Gryphons had their own chance at last-minute heroics in injury time as a yellow card to O'Callaghan gave Guelph a shot from just outside of the box, however it was not on target and whistle sounded shortly thereafter to end the game in a 2-2 draw.
Next up for the Mustangs is a trip to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend for a pair of games against the Algoma Thunderbirds. Game time is set for 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, and at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, September 6.
Source: Western Mustangs