And Then There Were Four…
|Wed. 26||St. Lawrence *||1||Fanshawe||6||Final||Recap Photos|
|Durham *||1||Humber||5||Final||Recap Photos|
|Conestoga *||1||George Brown||1||Final – PK Home||Recap Photos|
|St. Clair *||1||Seneca||2||Final||Recap Photos|
|Fri. 28||Fanshawe *||Humber||12:00 PM|
|George Brown *||Seneca||3:00 PM|
In the first full season post pandemic in the OCAA, it has been a season full of heathy surprises, welcome backs, heartbreaks and triumphs. There have been disappointments, but not in the quality of soccer played at the 2022 OCAA Provincial Championships hosted by Humber College at the Ontario Soccer Center.
All three of last year’s OCAA medalists return to the big stage, including the defending provincial and national champion Humber Hawks, runner-up George Brown Huskies, and bronze winner Seneca Sting. Both Humber and Seneca entered the championship without suffering a loss in 2022.
Today (Friday) we get to see who will represent the OCAA at the 2022 National Championships at Langara College in Langley, BC. The OCAA gets two entries this year, so the two semi-final winners punch their tickets to travel.
So let’s take a look at both games today and see where we stand.
Semi Final #1
Humber vs. Fanshawe 12 pm
The number 1 CCAA Nationally ranked team, the Humber College Hawks are looking for a continuation of their success over the past decade. Coach Mike Aquino’s Hawks have outscored its West Division opponents this year 56-5, running the table winning 10 straight. Humber College’s Luca Uccello (Markham) is the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Men’s Soccer Player of the Year this year. The fifth-year midfielder was the co-leader on the Hawks with 10 goals in 10 regular season matches, as Humber ran the table with a 10-0 unblemished record and the West Division championship. Uccello was a model of consistency, scoring in seven of 10 matches. Uccello received other honours as well, including Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Canadian and West Division League First-Team All-Star.
Humber has won nine of the last 11 OCAA championships, and six of the last nine national titles.
On Wednesday the Hawks opened their title defence with a home victory over the Durham Lords in the OCAA quarter-final round, 5-1.
With the rain starting to come down on the pitch, the Hawks opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Luca Uccello forced a turnover in the Lords’ end, finding Damion Kaye for his first of the match.
In the 32nd minute, Paul Valerie Mpeleng was cautioned for the second time and issued a red card, leaving the Lords short-handed for the rest of the match. Despite playing a man down, the Lords were able to keep the Hawks off of the board for the remainder of the match, heading into half down by one.
After the break, Kadell Thomas doubled Humber’s lead in the 50th minute, but Durham stormed right back with a goal from William Lyden.
The tally by Durham sparked a run by the Hawks, who went on to score three unanswered goals from Alex Meczarski, Damion Kaye, and Abdul-Azeez Babawale.
Fanshawe themselves are no slouches and with a retooled lineup, Coach Rob Pereira has much at his disposal. Fifth-year striker and 2021 All-Canadian Michael Sneddon (Mount Brydges) booted 13 goals for the Falcons in nine regular season matches, also good for second in the OCAA. Teammate Ryan Baker (Strathroy, ON) was named a First Team All-Star, as the fifth-year captain led the Fanshawe squad in the assists category. First year center-back Colin Elvie (Vittoria, ON) who was also named an OCAA First Team All-Star for his stellar defensive play throughout the season. Prior to last year’s Pandemic shortened season, the Falcons made it a habit of getting to the OCAA podium with their last medal being a bronze.
The Fanshawe Falcons opened the 2022 OCAA postseason, scoring two quick tallies and never looked back. Led by Michael Sneddon’s hat trick, the Falcons beat the St. Lawrence Surge in the first quarter-final at the Ontario Soccer Centre, 6-1.
The Falcons got on the board first when Juan Sebastian Gomez Galeano made a gorgeous cross into the box, finding the head of Michael Sneddon, who banged home his first of the tournament.
Less than ten minutes later, Fanshawe forced a turnover in the Surge’s end, and Sneddon scored an early contender for tally of the tournament. Sneddon chipped by two defenders and the keeper for his second of the match.
Despite an even run of play in the opening 45 minutes, the Falcons led at the break, 2-0.
It seems like ages ago since these two western rivals got together back on September 10, 2022 with at 4-2 Humber win. Since Fanshawe lost their second game of the season, they have not lost going 9-0-1 including the game over the St. Lawrence Surge on Wednesday.
This one is going to be closer that many think, but never count out the heart of a champion.
Pick: Humber 5 Fanshawe 2
Semi Final #2
Seneca vs. George Brown 3 pm
The George Brown Huskies settled for second place at last year’s OCAA championship, but earned a national wild card entry for their efforts.
George Brown is now one win away from returning to the national stage after their grind out PK win over Conestoga. Leading Coach John Williams’ Huskies on offence this season is second-year middle Mark Do Coito (Toronto) who scored seven goals in nine matches, was the East Division Defensive Player of the Year and was an important reason why George Brown averaged only one goal per match against during the regular season. Do Coito is also an East Division League First-Team All-Star.
The George Brown Huskies have defeated the No. 10 Conestoga Condors 1-1 (4-3 PK) in a tight match that required penalty kicks. The entertaining game saw both teams have glorious chances over the 120 minutes of play. The back-and-forth battle finally concluded in penalty kicks when Huskies’ goalkeeper Anthony Cerminara stopped Daniel Aguilera’s penalty attempt.
The George Brown Huskies controlled play for most of the first half against Conestoga; however, both teams could not bury a goal and the first 45 ended in a scoreless draw. The Huskies’ offence posted six shot attempts, with four coming on target, while the Condors had one shot attempt but could not hit the net. Pedja Jovicic made four saves for the Condors in the first half.
The Huskies’ offensive momentum carried onto the second half, and they would finally bury the game’s first goal in the 50th minute. As Yonis Jama controlled the ball just outside the 18-yard box, he would slip the ball by a Conestoga defender to find a speedy Gianfranco Gileppo, who would pot his first goal of the Huskies’ 2022 campaign.
Ninety minutes wasn’t enough to crown a victor of this tight quarterfinal matchup, and extra time was needed. The first 15-minute half of extra time saw both teams have chances to score the go-ahead tally, but neither squad could capitalize on their opportunities. The back-and-forth second extra time half saw both teams missing the net by mere inches to take the lead. Extra time ended as it began with the game tied 1-1.
After extra time remained goalless, penalty kicks would take place to declare a winner. After ten shooters, the Huskies would win the game on penalty kicks, 1-1 (4-3 PK).
The Seneca Sting can consider themselves battle tested after surviving penalty kicks against Sheridan on Saturday and their hard fought game against St. Clair on Wednesday to advance to the semi.
Seneca Sting defeated the St. Clair Saints 2-1 and advanced to the OCAA semifinals. The Saints were ahead by a score of 1-0 for most of the match; however, late-game heroics from the Sting jolted the squad ahead with seven minutes left in regulation, and they never looked back.
The Sting controlled play for much of the first half with seven shot attempts, but they could not post any goals on the scoresheet. St. Clair’s goalkeeper, Nedeljko Malic, was lights out in the first 45 making five saves and allowing the Saints to stay in the match. St. Clair had their opportunities in the half by posting two shots on target but could not keep up with the Sting’s fiery offensive pressure.
First-year striker Michael Pelligrini (Richmond Hill) scored 10 goals in 10 matches for Seneca during the regular season. Also joining Pelligrini on the 1st Team All-Star squad for the Sting was Francisco Thomas Cerros (Mississauga).
The only meeting this year between the East rivals cam on Saturday October 8, 2022 at Esther Shiner Stadium where the visiting Sting edged the home Huskies 3-2.
Both teams are led by coaches with championship pedigree Patrice Geshar and Johnny Williams, so there will be plenty of planning and scheming to make this one match incredibly entertaining.
Pick: Seneca 3 George Brown 2 OT