STFX claims The AUS Double
On the weekend the soccer teams of St. Francis Xavier painted the City of Sydney, NS white and blue with the X-Women winning their first Women’s AUS Soccer crown since 2016 and the men ending a 29 year drought for a championship topping the highly favored hosts from Cape Breton for their championship.
On the strength of a goal from junior midfielder Brynn Jurus (Ancaster, ON), in the 80th minute, the STFX X-Women finished off a perfect conference campaign with a 2-1 victory over the host Cape Breton University (CBU) Capers in the championship match of the 2023 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Women’s Soccer Championship on Sunday afternoon at Ness Timmons Field.
It is the first AUS banner for the White and Blue in women’s soccer since 2016.
On the title-clinching marker, which came off a corner kick from freshman midfielder Cheyenne Bower (London, ON), Second Team All-Star, CBU junior midfielder Ally Wilton (Bedford, NS) made an initial stop on the goal line before Jurus deposited the rebound into a gaping net behind AUS First Team All-Star keeper Ellie Lancaster (Fall River, NS) to make it 2-1.
Early in the match, in the fourth minute, the X-Women garnered the best early opportunity, Tournament MVP – Amanda Smith (Ottawa, ON) lacing a free kick off the cross bar behind an outstretched arm of Lancaster.
With the X-Women carrying an edge in territorial play and ball possession, the sides headed to the locker room in a scoreless tie.
In the 59th minute, the Capers opened the scoring when regular season MVP Ally Rowe fed a cross-field pass to Wilton, who scorched a strike from 25 yards into the top corner behind X-Women keeper Christina Gentile (Laval, QC) to make it 1-0.
Just more than five minutes later – in the 65th minute – the visiting X-Women notched the equalizer when Bower knifed a sensational through ball to Smith, who avoided a charging Lancaster and then ripped a strike inside the near post to knot the contest 1-1.
After taking their first lead, the X-Women played exceptional defense, while continuing to press the Capers, and secured the crown.
STFX outshot CBU 10-5, with both keepers coming up with two saves apiece.
The AUS champion X-Women will move on to the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Soccer Championship – hosted by Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario – from Nov. 9 to 12.
On the men’s side:
For the first time since 1994, the STFX X-Men are at the top of the conference mountain, after capturing the 2023 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Men’s Soccer Championship, presented by Bell – with a 2-0 shutout victory over the six-time defending champion Cape Breton University (CBU) Capers on Sunday evening at Ness Timmons Field.
It is the first AUS banner for the White and Blue since the program collected consecutive titles – in 1993 and 1994 – under legendary head coach Lou Bilek. Earlier in the day, the X-Women captured the women’s soccer title, giving STFX a sweep of AUS soccer titles for the first time in the post-secondary’s history.
Early in the match, STFX veteran Charlie Waters (Blackpool, England) was hauled down in the 18-yard box. He made no mistake on the ensuing penalty kick, giving the visitors a 1-0 edge in the eighth minute.
Waters had a chance at his second goal of the half just minutes later, but Capers defender Ben Fortuin (Maidenhead, England) made a top notch sliding defensive play to prevent a quality scoring chance.
The X-Men took a 1-0 lead to the locker room.
While trying to rally, the Capers ended up down one player – with a red card to Max Piepgrass (Calgary, AB) – and then three by the end of the match, with Elijah Le (Vaughan, ON) and Zé Cunha (Cascais, Portugal) also getting red cards.
CBU were unable to mount much of a comeback – especially once shorthanded – but there were a couple of opportunities, including a strike from Jamie Nicholson (North Petherton, UK) that sailed wide of the left post behind the X-Men keeper.
In the late going, the X-Men had a chance to add an insurance marker, but CBU keeper Daniel Clarke (Milton Keynes, England) stoned Logan Rieck (Cambridge, ON) on a penalty shot to keep the Capers within one goal.
A short time later, in the 89th minute, STFX sealed the deal on a goal from freshman forward Myroslav Zastavnyy (Toronto, ON) to make it 2-0.
An exemplary defensive effort from the White and Blue kept the vaunted Capers’ offense bottled up throughout the match.
The AUS receives two berths in the 2023 U SPORTS Men’s Soccer Championship – hosted by Cape Breton University Athletics – from Nov. 9 to 12, so both sides will return to the turf at Ness Timmons Field in a couple of weeks to vie for a national title.