By Thomas Becker
UPEI's perplexing season continued Sunday afternoon as the UNB Reds made a statement by handing their opponent its fifth straight loss 5-1.
With only four games remaining and an uphill climb to overcome, time's running out on the Panthers (1-5-2), if they intend on playing beyond the regular season.
The youthful Reds (4-2-2), meanwhile, have positioned themselves well for the remainder of the year. Not only have they won four straight games, but they've also gained valuable experience in the process.
"You look at the standings right now and things are pretty tight," said Reds head coach Miles Pinsent. "We've been able to string together two strong weekends in a row and we knew that's what we needed to do. We're happy with the progression we're making and getting the maximum points this weekend was critical."
Rookie midfielder Alex Dodgshon haunted the Panthers with yet another early goal that set the tone for things to come. Dodgshon was able to find the back of the net on a cross from teammate Matt Quigley in the 8th minute.
A 36th minute turnover near their own box cost the Panthers, as Ben Gorringe picked off an errant pass, took a couple steps in and laced a shot over keeper Brett Strba.
"We always knew we had the ability to score, it just didn't show at the beginning of the year," said Gorringe, who was named Subway Player of the Game. "We've been working on our offence a lot and it's great seeing it come to life."
The Reds continued to press UPEI's defence early in the second half and on successive attacks they managed to hit the post and crossbar before it laying it on the Panthers. First it was Dan Walker, who timed his sprint to the goal line perfectly and deposited a great feed from Tristan Nkoghe in the 57th minute. Two minutes later, Gorringe headed a cross to Joe Hamilton, who finished the play off and extended the lead 4-0.
The home team got one back after keeper Evan Barker fumbled the ball following a save, allowing Mohammad Jaber to capitalize on the hustle play. UPEI tried to rally from that, but at this level, finding goals in a hurry is a lot to ask. And as the field continued to open up for the Reds, reserve Grant Takacs scored minutes after entering the game late, putting any thoughts of a comeback to bed.
"We've been sticking to the process and trusting each other and we knew the results would come," Gorringe said. "It's just great seeing the ball go in the back of the net for us now. Hopefully we can build off this."
The Panthers return to the field on Oct. 14 when they take on the St. FX X-Men. Game time is 4:15 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan