Volume 93, Issue 43
Tuesday, November 16, 1999
A quest to repeat as CIAU champs
RUNNING TO THE TOP. The Mustangs ran away with their competition as they successfully defended their national title over the weekend.
By Sean Maraj
VICTORIA, B.C. The Mustangs are the champions once again.
However, don't believe for one second that the road to repeating as national champions was an easy one. Western was forced to play some of the most gruelling soccer of their season before capturing another national title at the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union finals in Victoria, B.C..
The tournament for the Mustangs began last Friday against the nationally number one ranked University of Victoria Vikings. Victoria came out strong in the first half and dominated Western's end of the field. After calming down, the Mustangs played an extremely balanced game.
With three minutes left, Mustang striker Ree San struck gold, putting Western ahead 1-0.
In response, Victoria, a team which has not trailed in a game all season, began to pour it on. The Vikings' missed scoring by inches on several occasions, including a ball that miraculously deflected off of Western goalkeeper Rob Lave's head. When the whistle blew, the Mustangs had upset the home town favourites 1-0 to advance to the semifinals.
"We knew it was going to be a game like this, they scored when they had to. I give them credit, they scored a great goal," said Bruce Wilson, Victoria's head coach.
Western head coach Rock Basacco attributed the victory to the team's strong defence, backed by Lave's play. "Both teams had offensive threats and our defence did a good job of containing them," Basacco said.
San, the lone scorer in the game, said he was ecstatic with their upsetting performance. He pointed out his team won this game with grit and determination. "We played great, we poured our guts out it was do or die. It was a good game," San said.
On Saturday, the Mustangs faced the Atlantic Universities Athletic Association champions the Dalhousie University Tigers. The Mustangs overwhelmed the Tigers by scoring three goals and completely outplaying their opponents, both offensively and defensively. The Mustangs, muddied and soaked, walked away with a 3-0 victory their second shutout in as many days.
With the win, Western advanced to the finals, putting them within striking distance of becoming back to back champions.
Dalhousie head coach Pat Nearing said he was happy with how his team played, but thought lady luck wasn't on his team's side. "We were pretty unlucky not to get a goal. But both teams were excellent," Nearing said.
By late Saturday, the focus of the tournament was already turning to the championship game on Sunday, with Western and the University of Alberta named as opponents. Before the match, Nearing said it was going to be a close one that could go right down to the wire. "Western should do all right, Alberta is a well disciplined team it could go to a shoot-out," Nearing said.
Basacco pointed out that the game was a repeat of last year's championship, adding he wasn't worried about how his team would finish in the big game. "We played Alberta last year, they have a lot of big people and a couple of creative midfielders. We're going to let them worry about us," Basacco said.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999