November 11, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 40  

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Injury bug leads to fourth place finish at soccer nationals

This past weekend marked the end of the road for Western's men's soccer team in Montreal. Their trip concluded with a fourth place finish in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships and left them just short of the podium.

"We expected to do well and we did," said coach Steve Langley. "We played our systems and could have given anyone in the country a run. I think we proved that this past weekend." The Mustangs were forced to settle for a draw in their first taste of CIS Championship action as they played the Alberta Golden Bears to a 1-1 tie on Friday. The Golden Bears controlled the game for the majority of the first half, until Mustangs rookie Justin Guy delivered in the clutch, during the 77th minute to tie it up.

"I felt we could have done better against Alberta, but we still felt confident afterwards," Langley said.

Opening up the scoring in Western's second CIS Championship game, Mustang Patrick Barnett headed the ball off a corner kick during the 62nd minute. The Mustangs second goal was scored by Mikael Gebre-Mariam off a rebound shot from teammate and game MVP Gentjan Dervishi. When the dust settled, Western had eliminated Concordia 2-1 and moved on to the bronze medal game.

The Mustangs ended their season with a fourth place finish in the CIS Championships, falling to the Montreal Carabins on Sunday. Running into some bad luck, Western was forced to utilize most of their bench due to numerous injuries.

"The injuries did affect our team, but we didn't let it get to us," Langley said. "The guys showed a lot of class." Western's top goalkeeper, Roberto Caballero Jr., suffered a concussion during the first 20 minutes of the game. Back-up goalie Mark Tagliaferri replaced Caballero Jr., but he soon left the field due to a partially pulled medial collateral ligament. Barnett was unable to play up to par because of a torn abdominal muscle, Ciaran McCarthy broke his arm, Chris Stefanazzi pulled his groin and to top things off, defensive player Gareth Wheeler played the entire tournament with mononucleosis.

"We had to dig deeper in to our bench than usual," said defensive player Rob Ferrari. "With so many guys hurt, we didn't have the best line out, but we played well."

Midfielder Jason Carrelas was forced to finish the game in net for the Mustangs. Not used to anchoring the defense, Carrelas was unable to stop Montreal's Jean Jacques from scoring on a shot to the top left corner. Montreal won the contest 2-0 to capture the bronze medal on their home turf.

-Alison Stolz




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