York Soccer Lions crowned national champions

Members of the York University Lions men’s soccer team were crowned national champions for the second time in three years as they defeated the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds 1-0 in the gold-medal match of the 2010 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships held at Varsity Centre in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 14.

The Lions previously won the title two years ago and also in 1977. The team has now improved its national championship all-time record to 11-4-2 and is a perfect 3-0 in national final appearances.


Above: The York Lions men’s soccer team celebrates its second national title in three years


“We did what we were expected to do as far as I’m concerned,” said York head coach Carmine Isacco. “We just made a commitment to each other, a commitment to defending and we tried to counter; it didn’t work out as well as we wanted, but we did what we needed to win the game.”

UBC, which holds the CIS record with 11 national titles since 1974, settles for its fourth silver-medal finish in program history.

Third-year York striker Adrian Pena was named the tournament’s most valuable player. The Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West player of the year and CIS first team all-Canadian was the only Lion to score over the four-day championship and led all players with four goals en route to his second career CIS banner.

Pena scored the lone goal of the game in the 17th minute thanks to a nice give-and-go play from fourth-year defender Dominic Antonini and first-year forward Alon Badat on the left side of the field. Antonini sent a perfectly placed cross to Pena who slid the ball past UBC goalkeeper Zach Kalthoff of Calgary.

“It was an amazing buildup on the left-wing for sure, but I know that Dominic broke through and I just had to get on the inside of my man, and luckily I did, so it was an easy finish,” said Pena on his game-winning goal. “I feel amazing; we worked for this all season.”

The Lions carried their 1-0 lead into the second half, where they played a sound defensive game. UBC had trouble penetrating the middle, which was clogged with a sea of York jerseys.

The Thunderbirds rallied toward the end of the game and had back-to-back corner opportunities in both the 73rd and 80th minute, but Lions goalkeeper Sotiri Varlokostas was there to deny anything that came his way.

T-Birds defender Paul Clerc got his head on a Brandon Bonifacio corner kick that sailed just over the net, and Ashley Ankiewicz had a great chance in injury time, but Varlokostas made an excellent diving save to preserve the victory.

“It’s a great group of players. I’m proud to be associated with them,” said UBC head coach Mike Mosher. “They worked their butts off today, through this tournament and through this season. It’s bitterly disappointing, but we can say we went down doing everything we possible could have. On the day, we lost to a good team and we have to give our respect to York.”

In addition to being named the tournament’s most valuable player, Pena was also named to the tournament all-star team along with four teammates. Antonini and fellow defender Gerard Ladiyou, the 2008 CIS tournament MVP, received the honour on the back end, Badat in the midfield, and backup goalkeeper Luigi Caruso, who stepped in for most of the quarter-finals and the semis after Varlokostas was red-carded, was named the goalkeeper on the tournament all-star team.

The Lions got into the final with a thrilling 3-2 victory in penalty kicks over the defending champion Laval Rouge et Or in the quarter-finals, and a nail-biting 1-0 win over the eventual bronze medal-winning Saint Mary’s Huskies in the semis.


For more details on the championship, visit the Sport York website.

Submitted by Alyson Fisher, sport & recreation information officer with Sport York