Five Lions named to FISU men’s soccer team

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) announced Thursday the 20 student-athletes who will represent Canada in men’s soccer at the 26th International University Sports Federation (FISU) Summer Universiade this summer, including five from the reigning CIS champion York University Lions men’s soccer team.

The Canadian roster is comprised of 18 standouts from CIS and two from the NCAA, and the five players from York represent the largest contingent of any institution. The student-athletes will battle for gold at the FISU this August in Shenzhen, China.

Representing the Lions are forward Adrian Pena, defenders Dominic Antonini and Jamaal Smith, midfielder Ilya Orlov and goalkeeper Sotiri Varlokostas.

Adrian Pena in actionRight: Adrian Pena in action

Pena emerged this past season as one of the most explosive forwards in the league, leading all players in CIS with 13 goals scored in 16 regular-season games to be named a first-team CIS all-Canadian for the first time. He was even more dominant in the playoffs, scoring two goals in three Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoff games and then netting all four Lions goals at the CIS championships en route to the gold medal. He was named the tournament MVP and a tournament all-star for his tremendous performance, and in March received York’s male athlete of the year award.

Smith was also an all-Canadian for the first time this season and is one of four players returning from the Canadian team that finished 12th at the last world university games in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia. He has been one of the leading defenders in the OUA in his five years with the Lions, receiving three all-star awards while winning two national titles (2008, 2010), an OUA banner (2007) and two OUA silver medals (2008, 2010).

Backfield teammate Antonini was named an OUA first-team all-star for the first time this year and also earned a place on the CIS tournament all-star team after stellar defensive play throughout the regular season and playoffs. He and Smith were co-captains of the team this season.

Varlokostas stepped into the starting goalkeeping role this season after the departure of Alim Karim and was immediately effective, posting 10 shutouts in the regular season and backstopping the Lions to the OUA silver medal and the national title.

Rounding out the Lions contingent is Orlov, also an OUA first-team all-star this season.

In China, Team Canada will compete in the preliminary round in Pool D against Great Britain, Ghana and reigning Universiade bronze-medallist Japan. A total of 16 countries are entered in the tournament.

“Our expectations are high but realistic,” says Team Canada head coach Steve Hart. “Our first team goal is to advance from the group stages. Great Britain and Ghana will provide strong opposition, as will Japan, who has a rich history in this tournament. After that, we will take each game as it comes and do our best to represent Canada on the world soccer stage. Everyone is excited and honoured to be a part of the FISU Games.”

The defending Universiade champion is the Ukraine, which edged the Canadians 2-1 in pool play in 2009. The Ukrainians beat Italy in the gold-medal final.

In six previous world university games appearances, Canada’s best result is a fourth-place finish in 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand, which marked the first time the Red and White advanced to the medal round.

Rounding out the team’s support staff are assistant coach Keith Mason and team leader Brandon Rees, both from the University of Guelph, and athletic therapist Kelly Scott.

Team Canada roster

  • Goalkeeper – JP Crescenzi (Calgary)
  • Goalkeeper – Sotiri Varlokostas (York)
  • Defender – Dominic Antonini (York)
  • Defender – Harman Braich (Alberta)
  • Defender – Anthony DiBiase (Niagara)
  • Defender – Jason Gill (UBC)
  • Defender – Stephen Lumley (StFX)
  • Defender – Cameron Schmidt (Alberta)
  • Defender – Jamaal Smith (York)
  • Midfielder – Olivier Babineau (McGill)
  • Midfielder – AJ Gray (StFX)
  • Midfielder – Carl Haworth (Niagara)
  • Midfielder – Navid Mashinchi (UBC)
  • Midfielder – Massimo Megna (Windsor)
  • Midfielder – Josh Northey (Saskatchewan)
  • Midfielder – Ilya Orlov (York)
  • Forward – Jerson Barandica Hamilton (Saskatchewan)
  • Forward – Gagandeep Dosanjh (UBC)
  • Forward – Robbie Murphy (Guelph)
  • Forward – Adrian Pena (York)

Head coach – Steve Hart (Windsor)
Assistant coach – Keith Mason (Guelph)
Team leader – Brandon Rees (Guelph)
Athletic therapist – Kelly Scott

Universiade pools 

The Universiade men’s soccer tournament will run from Aug. 11 to 22. A detailed schedule will be announced at a later date.

  • Pool A: China, South Korea, Colombia, South Africa
  • Pool B: Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, Malaysia
  • Pool C: Italy, Czech Republic, Uruguay, Thailand
  • Pool D: Japan, Great Britain, Canada, Ghana

Canada’s results in men’s soccer at the Universiade 

  • 2009 (Belgrade, Serbia): 12th/16 teams
  • 2007 (Bangkok, Thailand): 4th/16
  • 2003 (Daegu, South Korea): 15th/16
  • 1995 (Fukuoka, Japan): 16th/16
  • 1993 (Buffalo, USA): 16th/16
  • 1979 (Mexico City, Mexico): 12th/24