The No. 2 nationally-ranked York University Lions men's soccer team advanced to its third straight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) final on Saturday (Nov. 7) with a 1-0 overtime victory over the No. 6 University of Toronto Varsity Blues in their semifinal match at York Stadium.
Fourth-year forward Michael Cox (Calgary) was the hero for the Lions, finding the back of the net in the 111th minute for the lone goal of the game. He found his way into the 18-yard box and then curled a shot into the bottom left corner of the net that finally broke the deadlock.
Cox, who led the OUA with 16 goals this season, nearly opened the scoring in the 29th minute. A nice cross into the box by De Vante Walker (Brampton, Ont.) found Cox's foot, but his shot went off the crossbar and the game remained scoreless.
Eleven minutes later the Lions thought they had gotten on the board when Joey Cicchillo (North York, Ont.) scored, but his goal was waived off after the referee deemed him offside.
The score stayed at 0-0 thanks to tremendous play by Toronto goalkeeper Rab Bruce-Lockhart (Victoria), who recorded eight saves in the opening 45 minutes.
Bruce-Lockhart continued to deny the Lions in the early parts of the second half. In the 64th minute, Cox again found himself in dangerous territory but his point-blank shot was stopped.
The Blues pressured the Lions as time wound down, and in the 81st minute they nearly got on the scoreboard on a free kick by Nikolay Saveliev (Nagoya, Japan) that found its way to the net, but York goalkeeper Colm Vance (Bradford, Ont.) made a spectacular save to preserve the tie.
The Lions had another glorious chance to put the game away in stoppage time of the second half, but Daniel Gogarty's (Scarborough, Ont.) header was cleared off the goal line by Lukas MacNaughton (Brussels, Belgium) to send the game to overtime.
The best chance of the first overtime frame came courtesy of Jarek Whiteman (Brampton, Ont.), but some great defensive work from Koosha Nazeemi (Mississauga, Ont.) denied the chance before Whiteman could get a clean break on net.
Six minutes later Cox gave the Lions the lead, but they nearly coughed it up in the final minutes on a great shot by Devante Browne (Oshawa, Ont.), which harmlessly hit the side of the net and rolled away.
For the second year in a row, the Lions will face the rival McMaster Marauders in the championship final on Sunday afternoon at 2pm, while the Blues will face the Ryerson Rams in the bronze-medal match at 11am. The Blues and Rams will also be competing for the final OUA berth at next week's CIS championships, which will be hosted by the Lions at York Stadium Nov. 12-15.
Both of Sunday's games will be played at York Stadium and can also be watched online on OUA.tv.