Ottawa - The Carleton Ravens and York Lions men’s soccer teams will meet for the second straight year in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship match, as their pursuit to claim the Blackwood Cup will once again go through each other following their respective semifinal victories on Friday.
The Ravens moved on to their second straight title game after shutting down the Western Mustangs 3-0 in the first semifinal of the day, while the Lions reached their sixth straight provincial finale after a single against Ryerson Rams. The bronze medal match will be played at 1:00pm, followed by the gold medal match at 4:00pm at MNP Park. Both matches online on OUA.TV
After 30 minutes of battling for possession and a few wide shots by Western and Carlton, Western's Belal Halbouni was stifled in his opportunity to put Western ahead, as Ravens' keeper Nick Jeffs deflected the attempt with the tips of his fingers.
Not long after the Mustangs' attempt, OUA East Division MVP Dario Conte responded for the Ravens, pulling the trigger inside the penalty box after Dante Cobisa brought down the ball on Emad Houache’s left cross to open the scoring.
Just five minutes later, Carleton moved up on the board with their second. This time, Gabriel Bitar placed the ball in between keeper Kody Thomson's legs after a double step inside the box, cutting with his left foot for the 2-0 lead before the break.
Coming into the second half, the Mustangs battled to get back in the game, but Ravens head coach Kwesi Loney’s squad was able to settle down and take possession of the ball through out. “We just needed to be calmer in the first half and control our nerves coming into the second to start playing our game, keep possession of the ball and moving forward.”
After Carleton created a couple more chances, Thomson denied Bitar’s penalty kick attempt, but it didn't prevent Bitar to go for the goal once again, blitzing past Western's last defender on a counter attack to deposit the ball in the back of the net for Carleton’s third and final goal.
“Today the team showed their commitment in their pursuit of excellence. We have matured from last year. The players’ consistency improved the team’s performance and we are better prepared heading into the final game”, said coach Loney.
In the second semifinal, the Lions needed well over 60 minutes to put themselves ahead of the game, while Ryerson demonstrated their status a a top contender.
Despite a scoreless first half, both teams had their flurry of chances to open the scoring and while Ryerson had better control coming from the back, York created the best opportunities of the half with five shots on goal compared to three for Ryerson.
After 65 minutes of battling in the middle of the field, the Lions scored the ultimate game-winning goal on a single mistake by Ryerson’s defence. The Rams' inability to clear the ball inside the six-yard box on a corner kick created the chance for Lion Josh Kiselyov to dig the ball into the back of the net and score the marker that put York in their sixth consecutive OUA final.
“We have to be hungry in front of the net and make every opportunity we have into a positive one. We encountered Ryerson’s mistake and our team took that opportunity.” Lions Head Coach, Carmine Issaco
The Ravens will be looking to capture the Blackwood Cup after last year’s attempt against York fell short, while the Lions will seek to reclaim their seventh OUA championship and fifth in the last six years.