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Volume 91, Issue 32

Friday, October 24, 1997

cliff hanger


Mancuso comes to the rescue

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
I AM KING-PIN, HEAR ME ROAR. Mustang forward Luca Mancuso led the OUA West division in goal scoring this year with 11. Western starts its bid for a second consecutive provincial soccer championship starting this weekend.

By Maryanne Rockx and Alex Chiang

Gazette Staff

As the Western men's soccer team heads into the playoffs, Luca Mancuso hopes to go out in a blaze of glory. The fifth-year striker had 11 goals this season and feels confident of Western's chances going into this weekend.

Having played soccer since he was very young, the 23-year-old Scarborough native is used to success. A member of the Ontario provincial team, Mancuso also represented Canada in prestigious soccer tournaments held in Bermuda and Dallas. It was in Dallas that Mancuso got the opportunity to play against Fiorentine of the Italian soccer league of which European soccer star Roberto Baggio's brother, Eddie Baggio was a member. He also played a match against the Boca Juniors, Diego Maradonna's Argentinean home team.

Mancuso also won the Ontario Cup in 1987 with Guildwood and has received most valuable player in Ontario honours in 1987 and in 1989, both of which were signed by Premier David Peterson. As a 16-year-old, he practiced and played an exhibition game with Intermilan in what Mancuso said was probably the highlight of his career.

Although he was thinking of attending Providence College in the United States, Mancuso stated that he wrote his SATs too late and that he couldn't enroll there. He also said that he wasn't fully aware before hand that he could possibly have received a sports scholarship from an American school.

"When I first came to Western I thought geez, maybe I should have written the SATs earlier and gotten a free education," he said. "But I'm happy the way things worked out."

When the burgeoning soccer star arrived at Western, the soccer problem left much to be desired.

"I thought it was like more of an intramural team than anything," Mancuso said. "That's why I guess I decided to try my hand at football."

So Mancuso tried out and made Western's football team as a kicker, but his true passion drew him back to the game he loved and had excelled at all his life. Perhaps it's of little coincidence that the soccer program took off at about the same time as his decision to join the team.

"It's like night and day when you compare the team then and now," Mancuso said. "There's been a lot more interest the past two years. I don't know why that is, but maybe it's because we're winning."

Mancuso was decent, but unspectacular his first two years scoring a handful of goals including the winner against Toronto, which won Western the provincial championship last season. This year however, the striker has really come into his own as the Western's most prolific scorer.

"It touches close to my heart to see someone dominate offensively like he does," Mustang head coach Rock Basacco, who was once played as a forward for Western. "He's a very creative player, is skillful one-on-one and has a quick release which can catch a goalie off guard."

Mancuso helped the men's soccer team achieve a near perfect 10-1-1 record. As for this Saturday's playoff game against Windsor, Mancuso feels that Western has the advantage at every position and that Windsor is not as skillful or as tough.

If the Mustangs win the next two games, they will earn a berth at the national championship tournament to be held at Dalhousie in Halifax. Last year the team lost in the national finals, so with Mancuso at the helm they hope to go all the way.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997