Lions off to provincial final four championships this weekend

the York University Lions Logo

The 2013 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 2013 OUA Men’s Soccer Final Four Championships.

The four-team event will be hosted by the Ryerson University Rams at Birchmount Stadium in Scarborough, Ont., with the semifinals scheduled for Saturday and the gold- and bronze-medal games to be played on Sunday. All four games can be seen live online here.

The York Lions will play in the first semifinal at 11am against the Carleton University Ravens, and the host Rams will follow at 2pm against the upstart University of Windsor Lancers.

The Lions will be looking for revenge this year against the Ravens, who were responsible for knocking them out of contention last season with a 1-0 semifinal win in overtime. That defeat to Carleton represented the squad’s only loss of the year.

The Lions will be favoured against the Ravens again in this year’s semifinal as the top seeds in the West, while Carleton finished second in the OUA East for the second year in a row. York enters the game fresh off winning its seventh straight OUA West Division title with a 13-2-1 record and spent every week of the regular season in the CIS national rankings, including three in the top spot. They have been ranked No. 3 in each of the last four weeks.

The Lions reached the semifinals with a dominating 5-0 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks in the quarters last weekend, while the Ravens got through with a narrow 2-1 win over the Queen’s Gaels in overtime.

Carleton went 8-3-3 this year and was nationally ranked for five weeks, reaching a high of No. 1 in Week 3 and ending the year at No. 9.

The Lions are by far the highest scoring team in the event with a league-leading 53 goals in 16 games, the most ever in program history. The total is 19 more than any of the other three teams. In addition to their high-octane offence, the Lions also boast a stout defence that allowed only 12 goals, the second-lowest total.

There will be a new champion this year as the two-time defending gold medallists, the McMaster Marauders, were eliminated in the quarter-finals by the Lancers. The Lions are the most recent champions of the four teams competing in the tournament, having won in 2007, while Carleton last took home the banner in 2005. Both Ryerson and Windsor are looking for their first ever OUA men’s soccer championship.

The Rams will be the favourites at the tournament after an undefeated regular season, at 12-0-2, and a year-end national ranking of No. 2. They just edged into the semis with a 3-2 overtime win over the Toronto Varsity Blues in the quarter-finals that was made possible when they scored in the 90th minute to extend the contest. Their semifinal opponent, the Lancers, went just 7-3-6 in the regular season but played their biggest game when it mattered most to knock out the defending champion Marauders, winning 2-1 in overtime. Windsor was never nationally ranked this season.

In addition to the OUA title, the four teams are competing for a berth in the CIS Men’s Soccer Championship, which will be held Nov. 7-10 at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. The winners of the two semifinals on Saturday will earn the spots at the national tournament.