Twin heartbreaks for the men’s and women’s soccer Lions

There were twin heartbreaks, at opposite ends of the country, for York’s high-flying soccer teams at the weekend.

The women Lions, in Cape Breton, NS, made it to the national championship match, but lost 2-1. The men, in Vancouver, had to settle for bronze after losing in a semi-final. Both Lions teams are Ontario champions.

The women’s match was especially poignant. For the first time this season, they allowed more than one goal in a game. Unfortunately, it was most important game of the season.

Their bid for York’s first national title in any sport since 1990 ended in the 2-1 loss Sunday against the host Cape Breton Capers in the final of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) women’s soccer championship before a sellout crowd of more than 1,500.

“They came on set plays and we haven’t given up anything on those all year,” Lions head coach Paul James said. “It just wasn’t a good day for us. At the end of the day, Cape Breton played well. But I’m very proud of our players.”

York (18-2), making its third consecutive appearance at the nationals, posted its best women’s soccer finish in  history. It was also the best finish by a Lions team in any sport since 1997, when York’s women’s basketball team placed second at the nationals.

As for the men, a little more than 12 hours after their painful 2-1 overtime loss against the host University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the semi-final, they had the unenviable task of trying to get motivated to play in the bronze-medal game at the CIS men’s soccer national championship

It turned out to be easier said than done as York looked flat in a 4-1 loss against the Western Mustangs Sunday in Vancouver.

“No excuses,” Lions first-year head coach Carmine Isacco said. “We have to learn how to take care of some of the little things. Of course, I’m proud of them. If we would have scored a couple of more goals at the tournament, we would have been all right.

“But the expectations are high here. We can’t accept a semi-final loss, we can’t accept mediocrity and we can’t accept almost [winning]. We had our chance. Now, we have to keep building from this.”

The good news for the Lions is that all of their players are eligible to return next season.

“It was a good season,” Lions defender Franco Ruscetta said. “The guys did really well [this season], but it was a tough way to finish.”