YORK REGION – The Nine Stripes delivered their most dominant performance of the season on Saturday as they beat Pacific FC 1-0 at York Lions Stadium, on the back of a Ryan McCurdy own goal.
As a result, York9 boss Jimmy Brennan was all smiles in his post-match press conference.
“The boys put a great shift in today,” Brennan said. “We knew what was at stake; this was a game that we had to win, and we came away with the three points.”
Before growing into the game, York9 survived a dangerous early opportunity for Pacific as a handball in the box gave the visitors a penalty kick. Unfazed by the pressure, though, goalkeeper Nathan Ingham got his hands on Ben Fisk’s shot to keep it at 0-0 in the 7th minute.
Ingham’s relief at finally securing a CPL win for York9 was evident.
“It’s always fun to be a part of a winning locker room,” Ingham said. “It was tough, but we had a lot of experience in our room.”
Both Ingham and his coach admitted they had some growing pains early in the season, especially with injuries forcing a change in formation from a 3-5-2 to their current four-man backline. They reserved special praise for the squad’s fullbacks, Diyaeddine Abzi and Morey Doner, for winning minutes for themselves and making a difference on the flanks.
“We’ve completely changed our formation, and (Abzi and Doner) have taken to it like a duck to water,” Ingham said.
“I call them three-lungs,” Brennan added, “because they keep going and going and going, these boys, up and down that line.”
That the Nine Stripes’ first win came at home made it a particularly special day for Ingham, who waxed poetic about the fans who have braved uncooperative weather in each of York9’s home fixtures.
“Football without fans is just a workout, the fans mean a lot to me,” said Ingham. “When we got back from the Dominican, they’re waiting for us at the airport. They traveled in thousands to Hamilton for our home opener, and they’ve had to to battle conditions every time we’ve played at home so far.”
Brennan credited one more factor in their victory: his goalkeeper.
As a whole, the performance was a masterclass from Ingham. He made three saves, including an incredible point-blank reaction stop on Pacific’s Noah Verhoeven in the 48th minute.
“It was a great save, I’ll give you that. Wow,” Brennan told his ‘keeper, sitting next to him at the press conference table.
Ingham, too, was all smiles.
“I’m good, eh? At practice I’m never good enough,” he joked.
“We give him a lot of stick,” explained Brennan.
With this particular monkey off their back, the mood around the Nine Stripes feels much more relaxed, and their jump to fifth in the standings (coming off a successful CanChamp tie, too) is real cause for optimism in the dressing room.
With York9 now eager to put together their first winning streak, they’ll remain at home to take on an all-too-familiar foe in FC Edmonton on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer).