By Thomas Becker
After two consecutive nil-nil draws the UPEI Panthers' offence delivered early and often in a 4-0 win on home opener night.
Third-year striker Mohammad Jaber wasted little time, scoring the team's first goal of the season just four minutes in. Birthday boy Duncan Murray notched the first of his AUS career in the 11th minute, while captain Ignacio Sanchez made easy work of a penalty kick in the 20th minute. Midfielder Lucas Ross closed out the scoring late in the second half.
Head coach Lewis Page saw exactly what he needed to from his team – specifically his offence – as they get ready for a tough Cape Breton squad coming into town for a Sunday afternoon tilt.
"In the preseason game we played against them [Mount Allison], we were slow starting and gave them hope in the first 15 minutes," Page said. "So we talked before the game about coming out on the front foot and taking any thoughts they might have of winning the game away. And we definitely did that."
From the opening whistle, the Panthers were relentless in their attack and it paid off right away. In the 4th minute, Jaber dashed through the heart of the Mountie defence and walked in alone after evading the oncoming keeper to put the Panthers up 1-0.
Seven minutes later, Murray was the beneficiary of a perfectly executed through pass by Ross and chipped it past goaltender David Desbarats. Sanchez extended the lead 3-0 with the penalty kick shortly after.
"It was a great pass and I just hit with my left foot and luckily it went in. Hopefully it's the first of many," Murray said. "Mount Allison was playing a pretty high line early on and I think we did a good job taking advantage of that."
Ross, meanwhile, was stellar in midfield for the 90 minutes and his hustle led to the team's only goal in the second half. After making the initial save, Ross made Desbarats pay for surrendering the rebound. It was plays like that, especially with the game in hand, that veteran goaltender Nathan Ford wanted see from his squad.
"You look at our record since preseason and we haven't conceded, so the main area that we have to focus on is the goals," said Ford, who was named Subway Player of the Game. "This was the game we needed for our offence and it's only up hill for here."
Now the Panthers turn their attention to the defending champion Cape Breton Capers for a Sunday afternoon battle that begins at 3:15 p.m.
"I think our new style will be something they're not expecting, so if they haven't done their homework I think we'll catch them by surprise."