Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men started the AUS season on a winning note, defeating the UPEI Panthers 2-0 Friday afternoon at StFX Stadium.
The X-Men were guided early on in the game by the strong play of forward William Warren (Windsor Junction, NS) who created scoring opportunities in the opening minutes.
The Panthers first quality scoring chance came from veteran striker Moe Jaber (Halifax, NS) in the 14th minutes as he fired a low shot on the StFX net that went just wide.
Former U SPORTS player of the year Hayfield nearly gave the X-Men the lead 20 minutes into the game as he fired a laser that sailed just over crossbar.
Sam Smiley (Stratford, PE), the veteran fifth year Panthers winger, had a great scoring chance as he fired a low shot that X-Men goalkeeper Seamus MacDonald (Antigonish, NS) had to make a diving save to deflect the ball away.
Hayfield had another key chance off a free kick outside the 18 yard box but the ball again was just high over the cross bar.
The teams continued to battle for possession for the remainder of the opening half and Jaber almost gave the Panthers the lead heading into halftime as he fired a low, hard shot that forced MacDonald to be quick on the save once again.
The score remained 0-0 at the halftime break but did not stay scoreless long into the second half as Hayfield got the X-Men on the board in the opening minute of play.
Josh Read (Bath, UK) sent a long ball down the field that Warren picked up, then battled a pair of Panthers defenders to feed the ball to Hayfield who made no mistake firing it past Panthers netminder Brett Strba (Fall River, NS).
X-Men forward Tane Caubo (London, UK) had another good scoring chance in tight in the 60th minute, but was turned aside by Strba.
Another good chance came from Blake Fenton (Halifax, NS) in the 81st minute as he feathered a ball through the Panthers defenders towards the goal but it went wide.
UPEI struggled on the counterattack throughout the latter part of the second half.
Fenton's goal came in extra time, off a nice feed up the flank by Hayfield. His low shot beat Strba who had come out of the net to challenge the ball.
The X-Men closed out the game with eight shots on goal to the Panthers three.
Panthers midfielder Nacho Sanchez (Cornwall, PE) earned player of the game honours for his team, while X-Men midfielder Nick Aquino (Dartmouth, NS) was the Subway player of the game.
Both teams are back in AUS action on Sunday afternoon. The X-Men will host the UNB Reds in a 3:15 pm match at StFX Stadium, while the Panthers head to Sydney to take on the Cape Breton Capers.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information