Toronto – The No. 4 York Lions are no strangers to soccer success in the OUA, having racked up a 36-match unbeaten streak against OUA competition, but among their impressive streak of recent results is a string of closely-contested meetings with another of the conference’s consistent contenders – the McMaster Marauders. The two familiar foes will come together for the first time in 2019 in this week’s OUA Marquee Matchup, as both sides look to make an early statement in their quest for continued soccer success.
Both squads saw their seasons start with a draw in their respective openers on Saturday, with the Marauders finishing at 1-apiece thanks to a goal from Anand Sergeant (Lynden, Ont.), and the Lions securing the scoreless draw against Guelph on Saturday behind a clean sheet from Mike Argyrides (Richmond Hill, Ont.). McMaster would get their second game of the season under their belts on the weekend as well, this time picking up the win thanks to a 2-0 over Wilfrid Laurier. A goal in each half provided all the offence the maroon machine needed, as Tristan Joyce (Concord, Ont.) made nine saves for the shutout.
Not only have the teams started their seasons with tight matches, but the long-time rivals have also had a head-to-head history of close contests over the years. Despite the record favouring Thursday’s hosts of late (10-0-3 in their last 13 contests), with McMaster’s most recent victory coming in 2013, the result is by no means a known entity until the final whistle sounds. The two sides have met under numerous circumstances over the years, including a pair of OUA finals and a U SPORTS final, but no matter the situation, the level of competition remains the same.
Their most recent efforts ended with a pair of ties in 2018, as the two sides played to a 1-1 draw in each match. In both cases, the Lions were the first to get on the scoreboard, but the Marauders’ response came within the following 25 minutes to level the match and ultimately lead to a pair of deadlocked results. If either team is to find separation this week, or this season, they will need their top producers to be just that and do what they have a well-documented history of doing. And with all-stars up and down their rosters, each team boasts the firepower to come out on top.
At the forefront of York’s potent roster is an individual who is also one of the best across Ontario. OUA West Division all-star Omar Marzouk (North York, Ont.) finished second in the conference scoring race last year with 14 goals, while also finishing top five in both shots (35) and shots on goal (26). While the first-time all-star and offensive threat will be back for more with the Lions this season, he’ll also be joined by newcomer Reggie Laryea (Toronto, Ont.). Brother of Toronto FC midfielder Richie Laryea, the University of Akron transfer and winner of back-to-back Mid-American Conference championships will venture back north of the border this season to join the two-time reigning OUA champions and bolster their already impressive lineup.
This dynamic duo will be joined by former OUA West Division MVP Cristian Cavallini (Woodbridge, Ont.) and multiple other all-stars who will look to give York’s Frosh Frenzy crowd plenty to cheer for on Thursday night. Looking to spoil the hometown festivities, however, is another flurry of OUA all-stars that are looking to bounce back from an earlier-than-expected exit from last year’s postseason push, highlighted by Dusan Kovacevic (Oakville, Ont.) up front.
McMaster’s all-star striker paced last year’s club with seven tallies and will be called upon to do much of the same this season for the Hamilton squad. Fellow first-teamer Sergeant will return for his third season in maroon to anchor the team at midfield, along with a pair of OUA all-stars on the back end in Anton Buretic (Hamilton, Ont.) and Cheikh Tchouambou (Brampton, Ont.). Combined, this strong core buoys one of the more potent two-way teams in the province and will bring some fierce competition when they hit the road to the GTA.
There is no telling how things will ultimately unfold when McMaster and York hit the pitch in head-to-head fashion, but one thing that is all-but guaranteed is an extremely high level of play. Both the Marauders and Lions will be aiming high in this week’s OUA Marquee Matchup, but only time will tell if the visitors can buck their recent trend against York or if the hometown team can keep Mac at bay once again.
To see all the action come to pass at York’s Alumni Field on Thursday, September 5, fans can tune in to oua.tv, with the game set to go at 8:15pm from North York.