TORONTO (CIS) – The top-seeded and tournament host York University Lions began their title defence with a dominant 4-1 victory over the Cape Breton Capers thanks to a trio of goals by fourth-year striker Michael Cox in the fourth quarter-final match of the 2015 CIS men's soccer championship at York Stadium on Thursday night.
The win secures the Lions a spot in the second semifinal versus the fourth-seeded UBC Thunderbirds that will kick off on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., while the Capers move on to play the Toronto Varsity Blues in a consolation match that will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.
With the home field advantage and the recently awarded 2015 OUA title to their name, the Lions were the favourites to win heading into the match and they did not disappoint in front of a loud home crowd.
The wind had a significant impact in the first half for the Capers' offensive play. They created several opportunities in the Lions' end, catching them on the back foot with long balls over the top of their defensive lines.
Capers' Joel Eckert-Ayensa of Pulhaim, Germany, came close to scoring with a shot from the outside of the box that just sailed over the bar.
However, despite the Capers' persistent efforts, the Lions opened the scoring in the 23rd minute from a long-range shot off the boot of Dena Iezady of Richmond Hill, Ont., who was able to bury his chance from the top of the box and give his team the 1-0 lead that remained until halftime.
The second half saw the Lions dominating in the final third and they had the stats to prove it. They launched eight shots off (and a total of 17 in the match) as opposed to Cape Breton's one shot (of four), and Cox, the CIS's leading goal scorer in the regular season, put the game to rest with three goals in 18 minutes of play.
"I may have scored the goals in the second half, but it was a team effort," said Cox of his performance on the evening. "I was lucky that balls fell to me and I was relieved that I was able to finish off my chances to give my team the win."
Cox scored his first of the game in the 59th minute, beating the goalie to the ball and passing it into the unguarded net. He grabbed his second tally in the 73rd minute, outpacing two defenders before he picked out the bottom corner of the net with an in-stepped finish.
A few minutes later, in the 77th minute, he controlled the ball off of a scuff at the top of the box and calmly struck the ball into the back of the net to claim his hat trick.
Despite being down significantly, the Capers did not back down and managed to get on the scoreboard before the final whistle. Striking a free kick from 35 yards out, Cape Breton's Mark Stuart of Liverpool, United Kingdom, hit a screamer of a ball that was moved by the wind and squeezed just inside the top crossbar.
Cape Breton's game MVP, Sandro Rajkovic of Hamilton, said of the defeat, "It wasn't our best game, but we were energetic until the end. It's my last year so I want to make sure that I play my best tomorrow for my team and hopefully we can end the tournament with two wins."
YOR 1-3: 4
CBU 0-1: 1
1. YOR Dena Iezady (1), 23rd minute
2. YOR Michael Cox (1), 59th
3. YOR Michael Cox (2), 73rd
4. YOR Michael Cox (3), 77th
5. CBU Mark Stuart (1), 88th
YOR: Colm Vance (W, 1 GA, 0 saves, 90:00, 1-0)
CBU: Scott Shewfelt (L, 4 GA, 12 saves, 90:00, 0-1)
Shots: YOR 17, CBU 5
Shots on net: YOR 16, CBU 1
Corners: YOR 5, CBU 2
Fouls: YOR 9, CBU 11
Yellow cards: YOR (Benjamin Futoriansky)
Red cards: None
Players of the game:
YOR: Michael Cox
CBU: Sandro Rajkovic
SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Thursday, Nov. 12
11:00 Quarter-final 1: UQAM 2, McMaster 1 (4-3 kicks)
13:30 Quarter-final 2: UNB 3, Victoria 2
16:00 Quarter-final 3: UBC 2, Toronto 0
19:00 Quarter-final 4: York 4, Cape Breton 1
Friday, Nov. 13
11:00 Consolation 1: McMaster vs. Victoria (CIS-SIC.tv)
13:30 Consolation 2: Toronto vs. Cape Breton (CIS-SIC.tv)
Saturday, Nov. 14
11:00 Semifinal 1: UQAM vs. UNB (CIS-SIC.tv)
13:30 Semifinal 2: UBC vs. York (CIS-SIC.tv)
16:00 5th-place game (CIS-SIC.tv)
Sunday, Nov. 15
11:00 Bronze medal (CIS-SIC.tv)
14:00 Championship final (CIS-SIC.tv)