TORONTO, Ont. - Rookie forward Milan Beader scored in the 88th minute to give the York University Lions men's soccer team a 1-0 victory over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in their Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semifinal match on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 5) at Birchmount Stadium.
The three-time defending OUA champion Lions will now battle for their fourth straight conference title on Sunday. The win, their third straight over the Varsity Blues in the OUA semis, also advanced the Lions to the national championships for the fourth consecutive year.
With time winding down and extra time looming, the Lions finally broke the scoreless deadlock on Beader's third goal in two playoff games. The play started in York's own end with defender Daniel Gogarty feeding the ball to Dena Iezady at midfield. Iezady sent Jonathan Lao up the right wing, and he crossed the ball over to Cristian Cavallini, who headed an initial shot at the net from in close that easily beat out-of-position Toronto goalkeeper Mark Rogal. A Blues defender kept the ball out of the net, but it went straight to Beader and he made no mistake, shooting the ball into the top left corner for the winner.
The goal capped a game in which the Lions had several good scoring chances but could not beat Rogal.
Their best early chance came in the 38th minute off the boot of Iezady, but his shot ricocheted off the crossbar and stayed out. The game remained scoreless at the half.
The Lions again had multiple chances in the second but Rogal made a handful of big saves, including one where he dove to his right and punched the ball away to preserve the tie.
Toronto's best chance for a goal came in the 76th minute when a Blues player was hauled down on the edge of the 18-yard box, but their free kick hit the wall and bounced out of harm's way.
The Lions outshot the Blues 14-2 in the match and Rogal made a total of nine saves, while York goalkeeper Andrew D'Souza needed to make only one.
The Lions now await the winner of Saturday's second semifinal and will face either the Ryerson Rams or Guelph Gryphons in the gold medal final at 3pm, while the Blues will take on the loser for bronze at 12pm. Should Guelph advance to the final, Sunday's bronze medal match will also be for the final OUA spot at the national championships.
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