Facing their second division-winner in as many games, the Marauders produced a disciplined and defensively-sound effort on Saturday to thwart the Ryerson Rams and advance to their second-consecutive OUA final with a 1-0 win at York.
The victory also ensured that McMaster's season will last for another week, as the Marauders earned a berth in the CIS Championship tournament, having advanced to the conference final. They will meet the winner of the later semifinal between the York Lions and Toronto Varsity Blues in a 2:00 p.m. final on Sunday. Should York advance to that game, the OUA bronze-medalist will assume the Lions host berth at the national tournament.
Sasha Ricciuti scored the only goal of Saturday's game, in what was largely a defensive battle between two evenly-matched teams. Ryerson fell to McMaster for the second-consecutive year at the OUA semifinal stage.
With a vocal and partisan crowd in their corner, the Rams began the sunny semifinal strongly, and had the best of possession in the opening half. They had few scoring chances, and only four shots directed toward Marauder goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo, but Ryerson looked the most likely to score.
For their part, the Marauders appeared stretched in the opening 45 minutes, and did very little to worry the Rams defensive line, often lobbing forward and looking to play direct without the quality of ball necessary to succeed.
Wasteful with their possession, the Rams could not find an opening goal before the onset of the half, and the Marauders punished their opponents dearly for that inability.
McMaster resumed play with newfound purpose and flair, and fully deserved their lead when a well-worked break put the Marauders ahead in the 57th minute. Forward Stefan Scholz attempted an audacious overhead, and although he missed, the ball was critically not cleared by Ryerson. Instead, Scholz had a shot blocked, and the rebound spilled to Ricciuti, who had little to do to slot the ball inside the near post.
Having crafted a lead, the Marauders nearly doubled it just minutes later, when Scholz was the right man in the right place yet again, finding a cross at the far post and getting a late touch that was just snuffed out by Ryerson keeper Paveen Ahilan.
With the clock quickly becoming their worst enemy, the Rams pushed forward in ever greater numbers, desperate for an equalizing goal. Several long-range shots resulted, but the work of Cavalluzzo in the air was key as McMaster calmly rode the storm.
Content to pump the ball toward the corner flag, Mac sent substitute Ross Genovese ranging alone into the Ryerson end, as the Marauders wore the clock down. The Rams had one final, glorious opportunity to level when they were awarded a free kick at the edge of the Marauders box, but the end product whistled just wide of Cavalluzzo's near post.
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November 9, 2015 Nelles, Cox named OUA Athletes of the Week
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November 7, 2015 Lions advance to third straight OUA final with OT win over Blues
November 4, 2015 OUA Announces 2015 Men's Soccer Major Awards and All-Stars
October 29, 2015 AROUND OUA: Gryphons and Gaels advance to OUA quarter-finals
October 24, 2015 Kotsopoulos scores his 10th, Gryphons beat Laurier 1-0
October 22, 2015 AROUND OUA: Rams clinch first with win over Trent
October 20, 2015 Defending McCaw Cup champion Mustangs move into No. 1 in CIS Top 10
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October 17, 2015 AROUND OUA: Queen’s shuts out UOIT 1-0
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October 9, 2015 Paladins draw level in final minutes to earn tie with Ravens
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October 4, 2015 AROUND OUA: Deja vu for UOIT against Ryerson
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September 30, 2015 OUA teams predominately featured in latest CIS Top 10 rankings
September 30, 2015 OUA teams highly ranked in latest CIS Top 10 rankings
September 28, 2015 Per, Brudiu named OUA Athletes of the Week
September 28, 2015 AROUND OUA: Varsity Blues move into second place with 2-1 win over Ravens
September 27, 2015 AROUND OUA: No. 8 ranked Lancers shut-out No. 1 Lions
September 26, 2015 Golden Hawks and Brudiu block out Badgers 2-0
September 24, 2015 Lancers shut out West division rival Mustangs 1-0
September 23, 2015 Golden Hawks blank Gyphons 2-0
September 23, 2015 Queen’s Schroeter honoured as ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS athlete of the week
September 21, 2015 Martin, Schroeter named OUA Athletes of the Week
September 21, 2015 AROUND OUA: Gaels stun Rams with 3 goals in 6 minutes
September 20, 2015 AROUND OUA: U of T battles weather and Gaels in 2-1 loss to Queen's
September 17, 2015 AROUND OUA: Rams offence makes up for a pair of defensive lapses
September 14, 2015 Graves, Speechley-Price named OUA Athletes of the Week
September 14, 2015 AROUND OUA: Waterloo edges out Western on Sunday afternoon
September 13, 2015 AROUND OUA: Blues edge Voyageurs 1-0 to improve to 3-1
September 11, 2015 Lions take battle of top-ranked teams with win over Marauders
September 10, 2015 Lovemore-White brace highlights Carleton’s 4-0 win over RMC
September 8, 2015 Johnson, Petrovic named OUA Athletes of the Week
September 6, 2015 Strong start lifts triumphant Ravens over Lakers
September 3, 2015 Second half comeback helps Western earn 2-2 draw with Guelph
September 1, 2015 Reigning national champs York open at No. 1 in CIS Soccer Top 10
August 31, 2015 Williams, Hemati named OUA Athletes of the Week
October 6, 2014 Pizza Pizza OUA Teams of the Month - September