By Thomas Becker
Photo Janessa Hogan
A fortunate bounce was all the Varsity Reds needed as they toppled the UPEI Panthers 1-0 Sunday afternoon.
Forward Marcus Lees was credited with the only goal when his shot was redirected by a UPEI defender and found the back of the net.
"Marcus is pretty effective at beating guys and getting down the line. He played a ball in the box, it bounced around and ended up in the net," said Varsity Reds coach Miles Pinsent.
Leading up to the match, both teams combined to let in just 10 goals (seven for UPEI and three for UNB) through 16 games, and Sunday proved to be no different.
"It was just two teams trying to negate the other's strength," Pinsent said. "It was a hard fought and closely played game with great defensive efforts by both teams."
Panther Mohammad Jaber had the best opportunity in the opening half. After accepting a cross from his teammate, Jaber sprinted past his man and had a clear look at the goal, but UNB's Evan Barker made a knee-high save to keep it locked at zeros.
Jaber had another chance to pull his team ahead in the 47th minute, but again Barker was there to deny the 14-yard shot attempt, keeping the shutout intact.
Four minutes later, Lees bounced a shot off a UPEI defender for his second goal of the season, giving UNB the only score they needed.
"We need more of those," Pinsent said.
With the win, the fifth place Varsity Reds improve to 4-1-4, increasing their chances at a postseason berth. The Panthers will need to work a little bit harder, as they hold just a two-point edge for the final playoff spot.
"I was proud of their performance today," said Panthers head coach Lewis Page. "They were very good defensively. If we play like that the rest of the way, we'll be fine."
UPEI won't have to wait long as they prepare for the visiting Memorial Sea-Hawks on Oct. 22 at 3:15 p.m.