The 2012 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men’s soccer champion will be decided this weekend as four teams battle on the pitch for provincial supremacy at the 2012 OUA Men’s Soccer Final Four Championships.
The four-team event will be hosted by the York University Lions, with the semifinals scheduled for Saturday and the gold- and bronze-medal games to be played on Sunday.
The provincial championship promises to be exciting, with the top two teams in each division qualifying for the two-day event. Joining the host Lions, the No. 1 team in the OUA West Division, are the Queen’s University Gaels (No. 1 in the East), McMaster University Marauders (No. 2 in the West) and the Carleton University Ravens (No. 2 in the East). York and Carleton will face off in the second semifinal at 2pm, while Queen’s and McMaster will meet in the first at 11am.
In addition to the OUA title, these four teams are competing for a berth in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Men’s Soccer Championship, which will be held Nov. 8 to 11 at Laval University in Quebec City. The winners of the two semifinals on Saturday will earn the spots at the national tournament.
Since Week 4, all four participating teams have been ranked among the Top 10 in the CIS, ensuring a fierce two days of soccer.
The Lions won their sixth straight OUA West Division title with a sparkling 14-0-2 record and was the only team in the conference to go undefeated in the regular season. The squad has been ranked No. 1 in the CIS in each of the last five weeks and posted 11 shutouts in 17 games, including a 1-0 victory over the Wilfrid Laurier University in the quarter-finals last week. The Lions allowed more than one goal in a game only twice, giving up two to both the University Windsor and Brock University teams, and did not give up more than two goals in any contest. Throughout the regular season, the Lions were dominant on both offence and defence, scoring more goals than any other squad in the OUA (45) and allowing the fewest (eight).
Last OUA championship: 2007
No. of championships since 1965: 2
2012 goal scorers (regular season): Adrian Pena (17), Mark-Anthony Kaye (7), Joseph Cicchillo (3), Nicolas Mejia (3), Charlie Trafford (3), Tyrone Downes (2), Shaun MacDonald (2), Carlos Nogueira (2), Giancarlo Rella (2), Paramvir Sekhon (2), Martino Belligero, and Arthur Casupanan.
The Ravens are perennial contenders in the OUA and had another solid season this year, finishing with a 10-2-2 mark for second place in the East. The team was ranked nationally in every week but one, and reached a season high of No. 8 in Week 2. The Ravens scored more goals than any other team in the division this year (36), including a 10-goal outburst against Trent University in mid-October. They needed that offence in their quarter-final win over the upstart Ryerson Rams, as the game went into extra time tied at three before the Ravens scored three goals in the final 30 minutes for the 6-3 victory.
Last OUA championship: 2005
No. of championships since 1965: 2
2012 goal scorers (regular season): Andrew Latty (17), Joey Kewin (8), Mekonen Lovemore-White (3), Alexksandar Despotovic (2), Christophe Laberge-Perrault (2), Daud Dahir, Mintcho Mintchev, and Caki Simrooglu.
The Gaels had their best season in years, putting together an 11-1-2 record in the regular season to finish in first place in the East. They entered the national rankings in Week 3 and reached a season-high of No. 5 in Week 4, which they are at again this week. The Gaels were dominant on both sides of the ball, boasting the stingiest defence in the division (eight goals allowed) and the second-most prolific offence (32 goals scored), and they did not allow more than one goal in any game this season. The squad escaped its quarter-final match against Toronto, scoring the tying goal in the final minute of extra time then winning on penalty kicks to advance to its first Final Four Championship since 2007.
Last OUA championship: 1995
No. of championships since 1965: 4
2012 goal scorers (regular season): Lucas Azeredo-Lobo (6), Chris Michael (5), Eric Koskins (4), Henry Bloemen (3), Patrick Zanetti (3), Nathan Klemencic (2), Andrew Martin (2), Adrian Rochford (2), Tommy Hong, Nick Pateras, David Tom, and Joseph Zupo.
The Marauders are the defending OUA champions after winning the title in Ottawa last year despite entering the tournament as the lowest-seeded of the four participating teams. The squad has been nationally ranked in each week of the season with a high of No. 3, which it rose to in the final rankings this week. The Marauders finished five points behind the Lions in the West with a 12-1-3 mark, with their only loss coming to York early in the season. Their 34 goals scored and 11 allowed were both the second-best marks in the division, behind the Lions, and they posted the most dominant quarter-final result last week with a 2-0 win over the University of Guelph.
Last OUA championship: 2011
No. of championships since 1965: 5
2012 goal scorers (regular season): Mark Reilly (11), Paterson Farrell (8), Gersi Xhuti (4), Ryan Garnett (3), Nathaniel Morris (2), Andrew Pastoric, Andrew Curci, Muntazir Fadhel, Ouajih Hamouda, Garret McConville and Daniel Niksic.