Volume 92, Issue 37
Tuesday, November 10, 1998
Strutting into nationals
© Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
HMM...SHOULD I SHOOT OR SHOULD I PASS. It didn't seem to matter what Ree San did, pacing the Mustangs with a beautiful assist and a goal to their third straight OUA title.
BY SEAN MARAJ
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it is now official. Western's men's soccer team is the best in Ontario.
On a cold Sunday afternoon, with a slight and persistent drizzle, Western and Toronto met in a clash of east versus west for the Ontario University Athletics championship. When the smoke cleared, however, Western emerged with a 3-1 victory, walking away with the coveted Blackwood Cup for the third straight year.
From the opening whistle, Western came out on the offensive. Seven minutes into the half, defenceman Mike Potts floated a free kick in front of Toronto's goal. Then among a cluster of Toronto defencemen, Western's own defenceman Jonathan Hasson put the ball in with a beautiful header.
Despite the early goal, Toronto showed why they were the Ontario East champions as they immediately went on the offence. Despite several consecutive corner and free kicks, Toronto couldn't find the equalizer as the Western defence preserved the one goal lead.
Western quickly turned things around when forward Ree San broke through the Toronto defence and with a quick shot put the ball into the bottom right hand corner. But the Western offence didn't stop there. In the closing minutes of the half, San again broke through the Toronto defence. He crossed the ball across the goal mouth where midfielder Xavier Patrol scored with a brilliant slide kick at the far post to beat both a defenceman and the goalie.
"On the goal I saw the opening and just put it into the corner. As for my assist I heard someone call my name to my right at the far post. I just crossed it and it made for a beautiful goal," San said.
A goal in the second half by Toronto's Claudio Illanes was too little too late the Varsity Blues' fate was sealed.
Toronto coach John Lefkos defended his team after the disappointing loss.
"They really played hard," Lefkos said. "But we weren't prepared for the soft ground. Our game is based on making short and quick passes and today we had a hard time keeping our footing. Western were deserving winners."
Both Western and Toronto now head out to McGill to play in the Canadian nationals. There they will be part of a six team tournament to decide who is the best in all of Canada. With this impressive win and another championship under their belts, Western has a great deal of momentum heading into Montreal. But Western coach Rock Basacco still remained cautious about Western's chances on the national level.
"We'll play to win. The competition is much tougher with the six best teams in Canada. We hope to get the right bounces and we'll play as hard as we can."
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