Third time lucky for men's soccer
By John Dinner and Justin Klein
The Western Mustangs men's soccer team finished the season with an impressive 7-2-3 record, which earned them a second place in the league.
Despite not finishing first, the 'Stangs cruised to a three-peat, and now turn their attention to Montreal, the site of this weekend's national championships.
The Mustangs capped off their season with a 3-1 victory over Toronto in the league finals to earn their third straight Ontario University Athletics trophy and another shot at at capturing the elusive CIAU gold medal.
"We are competing against the top six teams in the country," said head coach Rock Basacco. "But we have been there two times before. We won the silver two years ago and we placed sixth last year, so definitely our expectation is to win gold."
Western's strength entering the tournament will be their depth, but they will rely on OUA all-stars Matt Gallo, Jon Hasson and Mike Potts for on-field leadership and experience.
Kevin Duffy, the backup goaltender, described how important these players have been in helping the team reach these new heights.
"They always give 100 per cent and really seem to lead the team offensively and defensively," Duffy said. "Against Toronto, Hasson really helped us control the game from the beginning as he helped the team take an early lead."
There are six teams invited from across the country to contend in this highly competitive tournament. Western will join the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Quebec at Montreal in the first division. McGill University, the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta will make up the second division.
Western's first game came on Wednesday against UPEI, where the team opened the tournament with a 4-2 victory.
"It's tough to play at the nationals against teams we haven't seen before, but that's also part of the excitement," Basacco said. "We just stuck to our game plan and played to our strengths and we came away with the win."
UPEI coach Bruce Norton saw the game slip through their fingers in one 10-minute span after they had tied it up. "We had one bad stretch and they scored three goals in 10 minutes," Norton said. "We're here to win and to lose like that is a disappointment."
Western opened up the scoring on a goal by midfielder Xavier Paturel, who sent a cross that found its way into the net. This put Western up 1-0 heading into the second half.
In the second, UPEI managed to tie it up but that's when the wheels fell off. Over the next 10 minutes Western tallied three goals. The first was from defenceman Justin Tasev, who has been a defensive dynamo all season. Midfielder Allan Hume then scored on a nifty breakaway and Paturel scored his second of the game on a beautiful cross from forward Ree San.
Western will next take on UQAM in hopes of moving onto the medal round where they will be seeking gold.
The Western women, who also captured the Ontario crown, have travelled to Victoria for the CIAU championships and are also looking to add the gold to their trophy case.
The women will be playing out of the B Pool with McGill and host Victoria. In Pool A, Toronto will be Ontario's representative and will face Calgary from Canada West and Dalhousie, the Atlantic champions.
The women will take to the field today against Victoria at 2 p.m.