BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) soccer returns to the pitch with a full slate of games beginning Friday, August 26, as the conference announced the schedule for the 2016 season on Wednesday.
The three-time defending OUA men's soccer champion York Lions will open their title defence on the road in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. as they take on the Algoma Thunderbirds in a weekend double-header on August 27-28.
After a brief one-game stop at home against the Laurier Golden Hawks, the Lions will head back out on the road where they will travel to the "Steel City" to take on their OUA East division rivals, the McMaster Marauders, on Wednesday, September 7. The Lions and Marauders have faced each other in each of the past two OUA gold medal matches with York prevailing 2-1 on home turf last season.
On the women's side, the defending OUA champions from Queen's will open their season at home the weekend of September 3-4 against the Nipissing Lakers and Laurentian Voyageurs.
The Gaels, who finished the regular season with a 7-2-7 regular season record, strung together a magical postseason run, upsetting the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, the aforementioned Voyageurs, West division powerhouse York Lions and 2013 OUA champion Golden Hawks en route to capturing their sixth title in program history.
Additional games highlighting the men's schedule include:
- For the first time since battling for OUA bronze last November, the Varsity Blues and crosstown rival Ryerson Rams will take to the pitch on September 18 at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, Ont.
- Also on September 18, the Western Mustangs and their West Division rivals from Laurier will clash for purple supremacy. The two teams finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the division with only one point separating them in the standings.
- The Lancers handed the Lions their only loss of 2015 with a 1-0 victory at Windsor's Alumni Field. The teams will meet again in Windsor, Ont. for their first of two regular season matchups on September 24.
- Carleton will leave the nest on October 2 and the Ravens will soar into the newly revamped Richardson Stadium to take on their East division rivals from Queen's. The Ravens finished just two points behind the Gaels in the standings a season ago, with an 8-2-6 regular season record.
Additional games highlighting the women's schedule include:
- What better way to kick off the 2016 season than with a fight between two of the stingiest defensive teams in OUA. The UOIT Ridgebacks, who allowed a division low seven goals against last season, will welcome the Ottawa Gee-Gees to Vaso's Field in Oshawa, Ont. on August 26.
- The Lions and Golden Hawks, who finished first and second, respectively, in the West division a season ago, will square off in an early season showdown on September 3 in Waterloo, Ont. The Lions handed the Hawks their only two regular season losses in 2015.
- On September 18, Laurier will host their purple rivals from Western in an early season game that could have potential playoff implications come late October. Last year, Laurier (12-2-2) finished just two points ahead of Western (11-2-3) in the standings.
- uOttawa paced the field in the East division in 2015, finishing the regular season with an unbeaten 13-0-3 record. The Gee-Gees will host the Laurentian Voyageurs at Matt Anthony Field in Ottawa, Ont. on September 25, followed by a trip to "The Big Nickel" for the rematch on October 16. The Voyageurs finished second in the division behind the Gee-Gees with a 9-4-3 record.
The regular season wraps up on October 23 with eight women's games and seven men's games, including a Ravens-Rams doubleheader in downtown Toronto, the Lancers taking on the Gryphons in Guelph, Ont., while in the York region, the Mustangs will attempt to tame the Lions.
First-round playoff action gets underway on Wednesday, October 26 with the quarter-finals taking place on Sunday, October 30.
The OUA Men's Soccer Final Four will be hosted this season by the highest remaining team from the East division, while the OUA Women's Soccer Final Four will be hosted by the highest remaining club from the West. Each Final Four tournament will take place on Saturday, November 5 and Sunday, November 6.
With the Guelph Gryphons set to host this year's 2016 CIS men's soccer championship, three OUA teams will earn a berth into the national championship tournament. The Gryphons will receive an automatic entry into the event, with an additional two OUA teams receiving berths based on playoff performance. The CIS women's soccer championship will be hosted by Acadia University.
Both CIS men's and women's soccer championships are set to run Thursday, November 10 to Sunday, November 13.
The full 2016 OUA men's and women's soccer schedules can be found here: