McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium will play host to eight teams this weekend for Ontario University Athletics 2014 men’s and women’s soccer championship final-four tournaments.
On the men’s side, the top four teams from the regular season have all advanced to the championship tournament, including the McMaster Marauders, who will face the Ryerson Rams in the last game of Saturday’s (Nov. 1) opening day of action.
The Marauders advanced past the Western Mustangs with a 1-0 quarter-final victory and are seeking a third OUA championship in four seasons, having won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. McMaster finished second in the West Division with an 11-2-3 record and lays claim to five all-stars. Mark Reilly (Hamilton) and Gersi Xhuti (Etobicoke, Ont.) tied for the team lead in goals with eight, while Marauders’ goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo (Hamilton) posted a 0.29 goals against average and a .914 save percentage that earned him first-team all-star honours.
McMaster was rated No. 7 in the last set of national top-ten rankings.
The No. 8 Ryerson Rams are chasing the school’s first-ever OUA men’s soccer championship. Ryerson finished first in the East Division going 12-4-0 and has six all-stars on its roster. After starting the season on an eight-game winning streak, the Rams faltered a bit down the stretch going 4-4 in their final eight matches.
Viktor Anastasov (Toronto) led the team with seven goals. Along with playing a strong defensive game, Ryerson looks to its midfielders for scoring as well. Raheem Rose (Etobicoke, Ont.) and Marko Miketic (Thornhill, Ont.) tied for second on the team, each scoring four goals. Both midfielders took home individual awards as well; Rose won Rookie of the Year, while Miketic was named a first-team all-star.
The Rams got by UOIT 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
The other semi-final features a pair of rivals from the GTA.
The defending champion York Lions played an undefeated regular season and captured the West Division going 14-0-2. The No. 1-ranked Lions advanced to the semi-finals with a 2-0 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks and led the league with 59 goals and just seven against. The team’s roster features six all-stars, including division MVP Jarek Whiteman (Brampton, Ont.), the league’s second leading goal scorer with 13. In goal, Colm Vance (Bradford, Ont.) was one of the top keeper’s in the league, finishing first in goals against average (0.26) and second in save percentage (.921). He also recorded seven shutouts.
York’s balanced attack will be difficult for opponents to deal with. The Lions had nine players score at least three goals this season.
Facing York will be the cross-town rival Toronto Varsity Blues. The Blues finished second in the East Division going 11-3-2 and are the only team in the tournament not ranked in Canadian Interuniversity Sport Top 10. Toronto’s last OUA title came in the 2010-11 season, and with a roster that features five all-stars, Toronto will be a tough task for the defending champions.
Kilian Elkinson (Toronto) led Toronto and finished fourth in OUA with an 11-goal breakout season and was named East Division MVP. The Blues advanced to the semis after beating the Queen’s Gaels 1-0 in the quarter-finals and have not lost since Oct. 4 against Carleton. Along with Elkinson, the Blues also expect to get scoring from forward Mario Kovacevic (Woodbridge, Ont.), the East Division’s Community Service Award Winner, who finished second on the team with eight goals.
The four top finishing teams in Ontario University Athletics women’s soccer find themselves going head-to-head in the conference’s Final Four after opening round playoffs.
The defending champion and No. 4-ranked Laurier Golden Hawks are back again after going 12-1-3 in the regular season and defeating the York Lions on penalty kicks in the quarter-finals. Two-time division MVP Emily Brown (Waterloo, Ont.) tied for the league lead with 21 goals and was named to the West Division all-star team along with five other teammates. Two other Golden Hawks scored double digit goals, Nicole Lyon (Kitchener, Ont.) tallied 13 and Maxine Murchie (Kitchener, Ont.) scored 12.
Taking on the defending champions in the semis will be the East Division leader and No.1-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Gee-Gees went 15-1 this season and are not far removed from winning an OUA championship; the team captured the title in the 2012-13 season.
Ottawa has five all-stars on its roster, including West Division MVP Pilar Khoury (Ottawa). She led the Gee-Gees and ranked fourth in the conference scoring 14 goals. As a team, Ottawa finished second in the league in goals scored, and has a balanced attack with nine players scoring at least three goals. Also returning for the Gee-Gees is 2013 MVP Julia Francki (Orleans, Ont.). She finished second on the team in scoring and was named a first-team all-star again this season. Ottawa made the Final Four by defeating Queen’s 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
On the other side of the bracket, the Western Mustangs take on the upstart UOIT Ridgebacks.
Western has not won a women’s soccer championship since 2004-05 and is hoping to end that drought after putting together an impressive 13-2-1 season that topped the West Division. Amanda Boyle (Vaughan, Ont.) tied for the lead league with 21 goals and was named to the divisional all-star team along with five of her teammates. Western led the league with 68 goals scored and dominated its quarter-final matchup, shutting out Guelph 3-0. It’s hard to find a weakness with the Mustangs. Defensively, they were the second best team in the conference allowing just six goals against. In goal, they look to Tori Edgar (Oakville, Ont.) who was named a first-team all-star for the second season in a row.
The UOIT women’s soccer team became the first varsity team in school history to be ranked in the CIS Top 10 and head into the tournament ranked sixth in the country. The Ridgebacks went 12-2-2 in the regular season and handed the Ottawa Gee-Gees their only defeat of 2014.
The dream season continued in the playoffs with a 2-1 quarter-final win against Toronto. The Ridgebacks had five players named to the all-star team including leading scorer Cassandra Srbiny (Pickering, Ont.) who scored seven times this season; she tied for the team lead with midfielder Shannon Lucas (Ajax, Ont.). On the sidelines, UOIT is led by Peyvand Mossavat, the winner of the OUA 2014 East Division Coach of the Year Award.
Each game of the tournament will be broadcast locally on Cable 14 and streamed live online at OUA.tv.
SATURDAY, NOV. 1
Women’s Semifinal: UOIT vs. Western – 10 a.m.
Women’s Semifinal: Laurier vs. Ottawa – 12:30 p.m.
Men’s Semifinal: Toronto vs. York – 3 p.m.
Men’s Semifinal: McMaster vs. Ryerson – 5:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, NOV. 2
Women’s Bronze – 10 a.m.
Men’s Bronze – 12:30 p.m.
Women’s Gold – 3 p.m.
Men’s Gold – 5:30 p.m.