York Lions carry off national soccer title

In a typically tight match between the Marauders and Lions, one moment of suspect defending cost McMaster an opportunity to wave the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship banner.

(Photo: Mike Needham/McMaster Athletics)

(Photo: Mike Needham/McMaster Athletics)

York’s Joey Cicchillo scored the game’s only goal in the 32nd minute, as the Lions won their fourth national title at the expense of McMaster, 1-0.

The Marauders take second place from Charlottetown, matching their best performance at the national tournament and finishing as finalist for the third time in program history.

McMaster got the better of play for the opening 20 minutes, and fashioned several chances down the right wing, where Paterson Farrell frequently pushed the ball. The best of those had Gersi Xhuti in its sights, but the winger could not get on the end of the cross, and dove through the box in vain.

York began to press as the half progressed, and their high pressure was causing ever more hurried play from the Marauders back line. That trend eventually yielded the Lions the game’s opening goal a half hour in, when McMaster failed to clear a ball in the box and Cicchillo controlled, turned and scuffed a bouncing shot past Angelo Cavalluzzo in the Marauders goal.

Struggling to hold the ball up in the attacking third, McMaster did not threaten for the remainder of the opening half and coach Dino Perri responded with several personnel changes to open the second 45.

On came the pace of Sasha Ricciuti, alongside Karl Bicamumpaka in the midfield and Kyle Kazda at wing back.

There was little forward momentum for either side for much of the second half, but the Marauders saw a quality chance come and pass 66 minutes in, when Ricciuti beat his marker inside and squared the ball for Yunus Mollayev, who halted his run too early.

Jonathan Lao missed a golden opportunity for the Lions to put the game beyond reach in the 83rd minute, when he drove a spot kick wide of the left post after being fouled in the box by Nic Vecchi. The Marauders centre back was shown his second yellow card of the match moments before stoppage time, reducing McMaster to 10 men as they searched frantically for the equalizer.

Two corner kick opportunities came and passed for the Marauders, and a third may have been upcoming before Xhuti inexplicably touched a ball headed out of play. Vance’s resulting goal kick was the final touch of the game, as York saw out the 1-0 victory.

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