By Thomas Becker
The UPEI Panthers are left looking for answers after getting shutout for a fourth straight game, this time at the hands of the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus 2-0.
With only a handful of games remaining, the Panthers (1-4-2) are in tough, especially with a scuffling offence that has scored in just one out of their seven contests.
Fortunately for them, they get a chance to redeem themselves as they still get to play the two teams holding the final two playoff spots – the UNB Reds (Sept. 30) and Saint Mary's Huskies (Oct. 26).
Moncton (1-6), meanwhile, is relishing in their first win of the season.
"It's huge because the guys have been working hard since training camp and we had quite a few games where we felt we were the better team," said Moncton head coach Florian Ntima-Nsiemi. "Today was good to see them ride the win. Hopefully it'll be a good stepping stone for the second half of the season."
One of his prized young pieces delivered the first punch of the game in the 42nd minute. It was rookie midfielder Felly Elonda, who sprinted in from the right and on a tight angle fired a powerful strike that goalkeeper Nathan Ford could do nothing about.
"My coach kept telling me 'you got to shoot, you got to shoot' and when I had the opportunity, nothing else was going through my mind. I just wanted to get a shot on net, I didn't care where it was going, just make the keeper make the save," said Elonda, who was named Subway Player of the Game,
It also happened to be his first goal of his AUS career.
"It was a great feeling," he said. "That goal meant a lot to us. It meant we have what it takes to be the best team we can be. When I hit it, I knew that was it for us, we needed that."
At the end of the half in extra time, the Aigles Bleus stunned the home crowd with another goal that all but sealed UPEI's fate. Gershome Mambo took a cross and headed it to Jean-Michel Dako, who shot it past the outstretched arms of Ford to extend the lead 2-0.
The Panthers tried different combinations upfront, but nothing worked. They found some success getting the ball on net in the final 10 minutes, but with confidence riding high, goalkeeper Christian Masimengo shut the door and closed out the win.
"It [the win] means a lot to us. We started out with six losses, but we knew we were better than that," Elonda said. "This game showed it all and this is only the beginning for us."
The Panthers take on the visiting UNB Reds on Sept. 30 at 3:15 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan