Veterans lead march against Windsor
By Mike Sikorski
Mother nature didn't want to make it an easy 4-0 win for the Western Mustang men's soccer team on Sunday afternoon as they faced the Windsor Lancers amid a stiff rain and a wicked north wind at J.W. Little stadium.
Going into their first playoff match upholding top spot in the Ontario West division with an incredible 10-1-1 record, the Mustang team proved they held the veteran leadership that could carry their superb regular season record into the unpredictable playoff pressure-cooker.
Through the first 15 minutes, frustration swept over the team as they were unable to break the ice while outplaying their opponent and soon allowed emotional fatigue to set in, giving the Windsor offence some excellent opportunities they were unable to capitalize on. Eyebrows and questions were raised on the Western bench, as the team searched for the veteran leadership that had led the team all season and was needed to turn the game around.
It took until the 28-minute mark of the first half before Western found All-Canadian veteran Ugo DeCandido, who unleashed a rocket of a shot from about 35 yards for the team's first goal. "The goal by Ugo definitely changed the momentum of the game," Western head coach Rock Basacco said, attributing the turning point to DeCandido's beautiful shot.
"We came out pretty good, then [Windsor] got a couple of chances and hit a couple of goal posts," DeCandido said. "Then the ball came to me and you know what happened after that."
Once DeCandido had broken the ice, Western's veteran experience began to shine through the darkened skies, as co-captain Jim Tsaprailis and veteran team scoring leader Luca Mancuso tapped in two more goals in the following five minutes.
The onslaught continued with a goal off the foot of fifth-year co-captain Tom Perks from a headed cross from Tsaprailis. "It was unbelievable, it shows how explosive we can be and we have so many weapons to choose from," Tsaprailis said on the first half Western barrage. "To score four goals in 11 minutes, especially in a playoff soccer game is unbelievable."
Although Sunday's game eliminated the Lancers from the playoffs, Windsor head coach Fabio Marras had only good things to say about Western. "It took them only 15 minutes to beat us," he said. "That shows that Western is a good team, they should do well."
The Mustangs will host their final home playoff game against Laurier on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and are confident they can continue their winning streak at home and advance on.
"Being my last game at home, one step away from the show, it would be a great end to my career at Western," Tsaprailis said, hoping for another shot at the nationals.