Toronto, Ont. (via York Lions) - The York University Lions men’s soccer team will play for its third straight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) banner on Saturday evening against a familiar opponent in the Carleton Ravens, their foe in each of the last two finals.
The Lions and Ravens both reached the gold medal game thanks to semifinal wins on Friday at York’s Alumni Field. The No. 1 nationally ranked Lions defeated the Toronto Varsity Blues 2-0 and the No. 3 Ravens knocked off the Guelph Gryphons 1-0 in extra time.
OUA West first-team all-star Jorgo Nika got the scoring going early for the Lions in the first half, connecting on a corner kick from Vaughan Bianchi in the 34th minute. Nika flicked a header that bounced off a Blues defender and slipped past keeper Stefan Dusciuc to put the defending champions up 1-0.
The Varsity Blues turned up the heat in the second frame, challenging OUA West first-team all-star Mike Argyrides to make six saves. But in the 82nd minute, super sub Omar Marzouk cleared any lingering doubts of the final result, slotting in his first goal of the postseason to put the Lions up 2-0.
The physicality of the match was worth noting, as five yellow cards were dished out throughout the match. The Blues’ battle for a podium finish will continue tomorrow as they compete for their fourth bronze in six years, while the Lions will look to defend their title in search of an illustrious three-peat.
In the earlier matchup of the day, the Ravens and Gryphons needed more than 90 minutes to determine who would advance to the OUA final on Saturday. A minute away from the break in the first half of extra time, Ravens forward Daniel Assaf buried the game-winning goal from outside the 18-yard box past Gryphons keeper Nick Jeffs to give his side the 1-0 victory.
Despite recording 16 shots in regular time, the Ravens were held off the scoreboard during regulation for the first time all season. The Gryphons picked up their third loss of the year, but will have the opportunity to fight for their first OUA medal in three years tomorrow, while the Ravens look to upgrade on back-to-back silver medals and lift their first Blackwood Cup since 2005.
With each of their victories on Friday, the Lions and Ravens have earned the right to represent the conference for the third year in a row at the U SPORTS championship in Montreal from Nov. 7-10.