Another day, another draw in Charlottetown for York9 FC.
The Nine Stripes had victory snatched from their hands on Tuesday night, when Pacific FC’s stoppage-time equalizer sent the two revamped clubs home with a point each in a 1-1 draw.
And so, with the lightning-fast first round of The Island Games now technically more than a quarter through for York9, they’re tied with Pacific for third place. Of course, all of the clubs chasing them have yet to play their midweek match; any of FC Edmonton, Atlético Ottawa, HFX Wanderers FC, or Valour FC could jump way up the table with a win on Wednesday or Thursday.
“We’re disappointed in the result,” Y9 coach Jimmy Brennan told reporters after the draw. “We knew it was gonna be a tough match, we knew it was gonna be a grind, especially in this tournament you’ve got to do whatever you can to get a win.”
The equalizer itself, Brennan said, was a tad unlucky, with Victor Blasco’s corner kick grazing Lukas MacNaughton’s hair (he’s sure he touched it; we’ll take his word for it…) and catching Y9 goalkeeper Nathan Ingham’s hand before landing in the net.
It wasn’t necessarily a vintage York9 performance, with Pacific taking the upper hand in possession, duels, and pass accuracy. York scored on their only shot on target of the second half (and what a shot it was, too — both Roger Thompson’s rocket of a Hail Mary pass, and Alvaro Rivero’s superb finish on the half-volley).
Brennan isn’t overly discouraged, though.
“First half, at times we were alright. We had a few opportunities that hit the bar, had some good chances, but we didn’t finish them off,” he said.
“It’s about finishing these games off and getting something out of it. That’s two games now we drew, and now it’s focusing on that next match.”
York9’s season-opening 2-2 draw with Atlético Ottawa might have stung a little less, considering they came back from two goals down in the second half. They’ve certainly had sharp moments in both games, but it seems that the club’s biggest problem has been breakdowns at critical moments.
“We’re scoring goals — two games, three goals — but we’ve conceded as well,” Brennan pointed out. “We need to get better. You look at our first match, we conceded at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, and then in the 91st minute we’ve conceded.
“Mentally, we’ve got to be right and finish games off, but we’re getting those chances. We just need to be a little bit better defensively.”
The Nine Stripes now focus on their meeting with Valour FC on Saturday that won’t be far off a must-win game, particularly if several teams make jumps up the standings this week. Valour lost to Cavalry FC on Sunday, and they’ll take on Ottawa on Wednesday; should they lose to Atlético, it’ll be crucial that York9 win to catch up with their fellow Ontario sides.
Fortunately, reinforcements are coming for York9. Eyebrows were raised when they entered their first game of the season without captain Manny Aparicio and big-name newcomers Michael Petrasso and Chris Mannella, all of whom picked up injuries in training. Aparicio started on Tuesday, having a pretty quiet night by his standards, but his importance to the transition game can’t be understated.
Petrasso, too, appeared against Pacific — albeit in a 30-minute cameo that saw him touch the ball just 10 times. A healthy game from him would change York9’s attack immeasurably.
And finally, Mannella may be on the way soon too.
“Chris isn’t too far off,” Brennan said. “He went and got a scan today, it’s clearing up. It’s just a low-grade strain, so we’re hoping over the next few days we get Chris back.”
Life comes at you fast at The Island Games. York9 still have designs on winning it all, but they’ll need everything to come together soon.