Soccer team determined
to bring home the gold
By Ian Denomme
After a three year hiatus, the Western Mustangs' men's soccer team
is heading back to nationals. And they don? plan on coming home
After winning the Ontario University Athletics championship last
week in Kingston with a 3-0 win over Waterloo in the final, the
team is poised to bring home the gold from the Canadian Interuniversity
Sport championships being held in Montreal this weekend.
Western hasn't been to the CIS final since winning the championship
in 1998 and 1999. The chance to go is exciting for the veterans
who have been there, as well as younger players getting their first
"It's the first time I've been, so its really exciting. The
whole team is pumped to have the experience," said second-year
midfielder Paul Speakman. "We also have some fifth-year guys
who haven't been there since their first or second year. It's really
exciting for the whole team." Western is joined at the tournament
by the universities of Waterloo, Alberta, Montreal, Concordia and
Saint Mary's. Just by emerging as the Ontario champion, the team
knows they are well prepared for the competition. The last five
CIS championships have been won by a team from Ontario.
"The quality in the OUA is really good," Speakman said.
"We knew going into the final that we were facing a really
strong side. We haven't played any of the other teams, but we're
expecting high quality." The OUA championships started with
a few surprises. Toronto -who was one of the favourites- withdrew
and forfeited their season after playing with an ineligible player.
Waterloo took their spot and upset Queen's in the semi-finals to
advance to face Western.
"It didn't matter who we played -it just feels great to win,"
said head coach Steve Langley. "We beat Waterloo once this
year and lost to them once. The guys were prepared and stepped up.
We knew from the beginning we could do it; it's very rewarding."
Going into the tournament on a high note has boosted the confidence
of the team and has heightened their expectations.
"We're expecting to win. At the start of the year we set three
goals: win our division, win the OUA and win nationals," Speakman
said, with sentiments echoed word for word by Langley.
Western opens the tournament today against Alberta and faces Concordia
tomorrow. The gold and bronze medal games are scheduled for Sunday.
"We don't know much [about our opponents], but we know they
are good. Alberta had a good year and Concordia has some great players,"
"We need to score more goals," Langley added, referring
to what it will take to win. "We haven't been giving up goals
and Roberto [Caballero Jr.] has been playing real well. We want
to be in the gold medal game -that's been our goal since day one,"
With their ultimate goal now in sight, the Mustangs are ready and
confident to grab the gold.
"We know what we want," Speakman said. "If we get
on a good run, we are confident that we can beat anybody."