· · · · · · · ·
Volume 91, Issue 29
Tuesday, October 21, 1997
Soccer team clinches first
6-5-4-3-2-1 MISSLE AWAY. Striker Luca Mancuso has been launching rockets off his golden foot all season to tie the OUA record and position his team as the favourites heading into the playoffs.
By David Vernon
This weekend, the Western men's soccer team played a double-header against Windsor and Waterloo, with more than just a couple of extra w's in the win column at stake. Instead, the team was fighting to secure the first-place spot in the Western division standings.
The 'Stangs opened the weekend on Saturday at home to the Windsor Lancers and clinched first place by calmly defeating the Lancers 4-1. "It was a huge game for us because they dealt us our only loss earlier in the season," said Western striker Luca Mancuso.
The Mustangs came out firing as they quickly took the lead and played a solid defensive game for the remainder of the affair. Western goals came from veteran Jim Tsaprailis and Luca Mancuso, tying him for the Ontario University Athletic Association's scoring record with 11 in one season. "I just wanted to get the guys hyped-up for the game," Mancuso said. "I knew we were going to beat them."
Coach Basacco had nothing but praise for his boys as he remarked on the clinching of first place. "We played our best game of the season," Basacco said. "We fought hard and played hard and that's what it will take to win it all."
Aside from the offensive performance, the team played an excellent defensive game as rookie netminder Jonathan Bendiner played a very disciplined game, allowing only one Windsor goal.
Playing the second half of the double-header on Sunday at home to the Waterloo Warriors with nothing more than bragging rights at stake, the Mustangs went out and defeated the Warriors 1-0 in a see-saw battle from start to finish. Western opened the scoring early, as Jim Tsaprailis added his second goal of the weekend scoring in the first 10 minutes of the game, giving Western a lead they would never relinquish.
"Jim was fortunate enough to get his body on the ball and then give it a good kick," exclaimed Basacco.
In the first half, it looked as if the Warriors would be able to match the one-goal deficit Western had created. "Our offence was playing very cautiously in the first half," Bendiner said. "It was our defense that really kept us in the game." The defensive play of goalie John Dreliozis proved to be the difference in the game as his solid play in net enabled Western to finish the season at 9-1-1.
However, the success of the men's soccer team this season can be attributed to the excellent play of striker Luca Mancuso. Mancuso, who was robbed on a penalty shot in the middle of the first half of Sunday's game that would have broken the OUA scoring mark, finished the season with 11 goals. "I really can't believe how this season has turned out for myself and for the team," he said. "I couldn't be happier."
Now that the regular season has come to an end, the men's soccer team will look ahead to a possible first-round match with either Windsor, McMaster or Laurier next weekend.
To Contact The Sports Department: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © The Gazette 1997