Playoff-bound Panthers roll past Mount Allison 5-1

Playoff-bound Panthers roll past Mount Allison 5-1

By Thomas Becker

The UPEI Panthers jumped all over the Mount Allison Mounties in the second half of Saturday afternoon's game, as they cruised to a 5-1 win. 

The Panthers scored four times in the final 45 minutes with goals from Ignacio Sanchez, Sam Smiley, Salem Farag and Viktor Guterriez

With the win, the team finds themselves back in the postseason after missing out on all the fun last year. 

"The entire team committed to playing the right way this year and we executed what we wanted," Smiley said. "We just have to go for it at this point and leave it all on the field." 

With a handful of graduating players on the roster, the Panthers wanted to deliver a performance to remember for the home crowd one last time. 

Mohammad Jaber got things going in the 23rd minute when midfielder Khalil Sow lobbed a pass over the defence to the speedy striker, who let the ball bounce before volleying it over the keeper. 

A bad read by Brett Strba allowed the Mounties to tie it up 10 minutes later. The goalkeeper raced off his line trying to clear a ball, but Ziad Abdelrahman got there first and put away the goal on the open net.

The home side had no intention of coming away with anything less than a win and it showed in the second half. 

"It was motivation for us," said Sanchez, who was named the Subway Player of the Game. "We knew it was our last home game and we really wanted to go out on a high." 

Sanchez opened the scoring five minutes into the second half after Smiley ran up the right wing, cut toward the middle and centred a pass to the veteran midfielder, who connected on the strike. 

In the 74th minute centre back, Jake Deighan, sent a long ball to Smiley, who ran it down before chipping a shot over the keeper. Farag deposited his first goal of his AUS career a minute later when Smiley headed a beautiful free kick to the rookie, who found the back of the net with a low shot. 

Gutierrez took advantage of some shaky goaltending in the 86th minute when Mountie keeper, Michael Cormier, fumbled a Panther cross allowing the striker to tap home the team's fifth goal.

After the game, Sanchez reflected on his time as a Panther and what the program has meant to him in his five-year stint. 

"It's gratitude for the program and everything we've been through with each other and the coaching staff," he said. "We came in as kids and now we're leaving as grown men." 

UPEI heads off to Cape Breton for the AUS Championship, where they'll take on the UNB Reds in semifinal action. Kickoff is scheduled for Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. 

"The slate is clean now and we know we can compete with any team in the playoffs," Sanchez said.

Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan