Surprises, Traditions Broken and Some of The Same Old In The First Round of The OUA Playoffs
It was a thrilling night across the first round of the OUA Men’s soccer playoffs on Wednesday evening. All but one of the home teams came away with results to advance to the OUA quarterfinals. Two games finishing in penalty kicks, one game the first time they have ever won a playoff game in school Varsity Men’s history and one just trying to validate their National ranking.
So let’s see how we got there.
|Brock 2||Guelph 2||Final (Guelph wins 5-4 in PK)||Guelph Soccer Complex West Field||Box Score Round #1|
|Toronto 0||Nipissing 1||Final||North Bay, Ontario||Box Score Round #1|
|Queen’s 0||Carleton 2||Final||Ottawa, Ontario||Box Score Round #1|
|Waterloo 3||Western 3||Final (5-4 on Penalty Kicks)||Mustang Field||Box Score Round #1|
Nipissing Lakers 1 vs. U of Toronto Vasity Blues 0
The Nipissing Lakers men’s soccer team hosted the Toronto Varsity Blues in Round 1 of the OUA Playoffs Wednesday night and the two teams renewed their rivalry.
In tough conditions that only the OUA playoffs could provide, it was the Lakers came away with a hard-fought 1-0 win to advance to the second round.
While both teams had pressure in the opening 45 minutes, neither was able to generate much in the way of offence fighting the elements as much as each other’s defensive set ups with both Nipissing’s Gabe Pastore and U of T’s Ben Grondin making key saves. This led to a halftime break tied 0-0.
In the second half, the drama continued and it was Nipissing who gave the home crowd something to celebrate. Justin Gomes found the back of the net in the 75th minute to give Nipissing the lead, one they would hold on to for the remainder of the game.
Gabe Pastore was strong in net, finishing with the clean sheet.
Carleton University Ravens 2 vs Queens University Golden Gaels 0
The Carleton Ravens men’s soccer team advanced with a 2-0 win over their rival Queens Golden Gales at Taac Park in Ottawa, Ontario on Wednesday evening.
After a goalless first half where both defenses were very stingy, but Carleton carrying the better of the play and opportunities, Carleton came out flying in the second half just as they did in the first. Just two minutes into the half, Mohamed Bouzidi made up for his earlier miss scoring a header off a Carleton free kick. Just over 10 minutes later, the ball dropped to Carleton’s Scott Mazzotta (Ottawa, Ont.) who fired a first-time shot past the keeper to give Carleton a 2-0 lead. The Ravens kept hold of possession while leading by two, allowing them to run out the clock on the Gaels. Queen’s began sending defenders forward in the 70th minute, but there was little opportunity for the Gaels to find any space. Queen’s was outshot 9-2 in the contest with Manuel Dirube (Oakville, Ont.) making seven saves for the Gaels. It was a relatively comfortable day for Carleton keeper Tyler David (Hawkesbury, Ont.) who made just one save to earn the clean sheet.
Guelph Gryphons 2 (5) vs Brock Badgers 2 (4) PK’s
The defending OUA champion Guelph Gryphons men’s soccer team is moving on to the conference quarterfinals thanks to a thrilling win, 5-4 on penalties, over the Brock Badgers on Wednesday night (Oct. 26) at the Gryphon Soccer Complex.
In a thrilling marathon that ended just shy of midnight, the Gryphons outlasted the Badgers in a captivating opening round matchup in the 2022 OUA men’s soccer playoffs.
the Badgers were first on the board as Marc Iantomasi scored for Brock just eight minutes into the playoff matchup. One of the top defensive teams in the OUA through the regular season, conceding just five goals over 12 regular season games, the Badgers looked to shore up defensively after taking the early lead and would carry the 1-0 advantage into the half.
Following the break, the No. 9 nationally ranked Gryphons were finally able to find an equalizer as a beautiful ball delivered off a set-piece off the foot of Colin Gander would be headed home by first-year forward, Leo Shrimpton, in the 54th minute leveled the match at 1-1. The two teams were tied 1-1 after 90 minutes. In the first half of extra time, the Gryphons took the lead thanks to rookie midfielder, John Greenhough, but a late equalizer from Brock’s Michael Solomon in the 117th minute. 2-2 after extra time, meant penalties were needed to decide a winner.
During the penalty shootout, both teams were a perfect 4-for-4 from the spot through the first four rounds. But in the 5th round, Gryphon goalkeeper Leighton Jull provided the heroics, diving to his right to deny Brock’s Luca Ragagnin. That meant the game was on the foot of Guelph’s fifth shooter, Jack Sears. Sears had been here before when he played a key role in Guelph’s OUA title run in 2021, including successfully converting from the penalty spot at the Gryphon Soccer Complex last year’s quarterfinal win over the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. Nothing changed from Jack Sears, who put the penalty away as calmly and easily as he had before as the last shooter to put the Gryphons through to the OUA Quarterfinals.
UWO Mustangs 3 (4) vs. Waterloo Warriors 3 (5)
In a game that had all the drama of a playoff game could need, this seesaw battle, saw yellow cards, red cards along with back and forth scoring only to end in a penalty kick thriller. The lone visiting team in the four matches of the evening presented the Waterloo Warriors outlasting the Western Mustangs 5-4 in penalties in the OUA west quarter-finals after a thrilling 3-3 score line from 120 minutes that didn’t settle anything.
Western came out firing on all fronts and were able to get on the board early. In the 12th minute, Western was able to get a corner kick. Captain Patrick Melo took the kick, landing it in the box for Western players to get one in, and off a rebound second-year Charlie Bontis was able to put one in. This gave the Mustangs lots of momentum and energy to carry through the first half.
25 minutes into the first, Western was awarded a free kick. The kick got cleared to the side and was crossed back to the middle by defenseman Aidan Bauer Marr. Bontis headed the ball which was a perfect pass to Daniel Oshana to pound it into the back of the net making it 2-0 Mustangs. This gave Western more energy and the confidence to lock down the game and come out of the first half up two goals.
The second half would bring uncertainty and adversity for the hosts.
Waterloo battled back from an early 0-2 deficit first, in the 69th minute, Western keeper Dino Bontis ran out of the box and slid at a Waterloo forward barreling down the field to challenge him, resulting in the striker falling. Bontis was shown a red card and Waterloo was awarded a penalty shot. Waterloo’s Guerrieri was successful in the penalty kick, making it a one goal game. Also, to make matters worse, Western was down to 10 players on the field.
7 minutes later, Waterloo was able to take advantage of the Mustang’s being down a man and Waterloo found the equalizer as Matthew DeMichelle put one past the Western keeper to make it a 2-2 game to tie the game with 20 minutes left. Waterloo continued to come on and challenge Western’s defense, but regulation ended at a 2-2 tie. The game headed to overtime.
Overtime brought more adversity for Western. Already one player down, Waterloo came out strong, putting Western on their heels with some chances. 10 minutes into the first Overtime half, Waterloo was able to capitalize on one of their chances when Nikolas Antolcic (Kitchener/) scored to make it a 3-2 Warrior advantage taking their first lead of the game. Two minutes later, Western’s Sokol Qamili was given a red card for taking down a Waterloo striker, meaning Western was down two men for the remaining 2 minutes and second half of overtime.
Western’s 9 players came out firing for the second overtime half, pushing forward and trying to put anything on net. There were times where even goaltender Sam Spoelstra was pulled up into the play to give Western more bodies.
With 2 minutes remaining in the second overtime half, the Waterloo goaltender bobbled a touch on the ball and Charlie Bontis was able to take advantage and the former TFC Academy product put away his second of the game, tying the game. The overtime ended 3-3 and the game headed into penalty shots.
Penalty shots are always a hard way to end a game. Western was only able to score on 4 of the 5 shots and Waterloo scored all 5, securing the hard sought after win. Western fought hard and battled the adversity despite coming up short in the end.
If last night’s games were any indication of the excitement and drama to come in the rest of the playoffs, look out it’s going to a lot of fun to be a fan.