York gets booted
By Jason Valentin
For the second consecutive year the Western Mustang soccer team is heading to the national championships as Ontario's best, following a 1-0 victory over the York Yeomen in Toronto on Saturday.
With neither side able to score in regulation and overtime, the game was left to be decided in penalty kicks, where the Mustangs came out on top 5-4. Scoring for the Mustangs were Ugo DeCandido, Tom Perks, Luca Mancuso, Justin Tasev and Jim Tsaparailis, while the lone miss by York came on their second penalty kick which rang off the post
After the final whistle had blown, York head coach Eric Willis was left to ponder what might have been. "The result proves again that soccer is a game of inches our final miss was mere inches from going in," he said.
Willis said the even level of competition was reflected in the score and that parody has hit OUA men's soccer. "The game was very even and, in fact, so has the league been as a whole," he said.
Willis did not use horrible weather conditions as an excuse for his team's failure to score. "We have a good field even in wet conditions and are proud of it. The game was not quite as skillful as it could have been but neither team gave anything away defensively and both had to play under the same conditions." Strong defence rather than rain kept the scoresheet clean in his mind.
While York's head man downplayed the effect of bad weather, Mustang scoring ace Luca Mancuso put an emphasis on its effect on the overall skill level of the contest. "It was a sloppy game, rainy, wet and tough to play because of the conditions. There was no build-up in play." He added the Mustangs had chances to score but failed to capitalize on them.
With invitations already reserved and the Ontario title wrapped up, both teams will now focus on bringing home gold from Halifax at the Canadian championships.
The nationals, beginning on Thursday, have the Mustangs slotted in a tough division with the No. 1 ranked University of British Columbia and the host Dalhousie squad.
"We're in a tough pool but we'll do okay. We have the team to win," Mancuso said.
Mustang Coach Rock Basacco said team play will be the key to victory. "We have a lot of individual talent but we have to use it collectively to be successful".
The Yeomen, who will face the Quebec and Atlantic champions in their pool, are also optimistic. Willis, who led his team to third place at last year's nationals behind silver medalist Western, can't help being wary about playing Western at some point in Halifax. As a Western alumni, Willis spoke of a sense of divided loyalty, "I can't help but feel a bit for Western."
The Mustangs held a brief shoot-around on Monday and will hold a team meeting before heading out to the East coast.