2018-11-05 Vancouver- The U Sports national soccer tournament is set to be held at UBC this upcoming weekend, with quarter final matchups set for thursday. Yesterday at Van City Sport we previewed the hosts outlook on the tournament. While the hosts are a one favourite to win the championship, there are still seven others teams who will try to spoil their party.
Today we preview the runners up in Canada West, Trinity Western; as well as both Ontario Universities at the championship in Carleton and York.
The Spartans came oh so close to the Canada West championship. It took a controversial goal to seal their loss in the final against the Thunderbirds. That being said, they did qualify for the tournament as finalists and after finishing the regular season with an 8-3-4 record the Langley school will hope to make an impact at the tournament.
Their record was good enough for second in the pacifIc conference, only behind UBC. Despite only being one spot behind the thunderbirds in the standings, the gap was quite large. Nine points to be exact, While some of that can be accredited to their final two games which they lost, it was clear that they were not up to the same level as the Thunderbirds all season.
Their goals against per game is the highest of any team at the tournament, as they conceded an average of 1.47 in each match. That stat puts them well behind every other team at the tournament. The Spartans are the only team to have this stat be over one goal and facing the potent attacks of every team could prove their downfall in an early quarter finals exit.
The defense is certainly a worry for TWU, but their attack could help them; although it certainly does not cover up their defensive inefficiencies. Jacob Low and Domenic Poletto tied for the team lead in both points and goals, but they were largely the only contributors offensively throughout the campaign. In the end their defense is weary and goalscoring is relied upon two key players, it will likely be a short tournament for the Spartans.
Although they may not progress to the semi finals, their fan support is expected to be one of the most boisterous of all the schools. Thunderbird Stadium isn’t the most convenient place coming from Langley, however; at the Canada West final the contingent of TWU supporters was substantial. Regardless of their play on the pitch it’s an exciting time for Trinity Western men’s soccer. They have great fans, they clearly have fun playing the game and they are the first edition of the team to qualify for nationals.
Their opponents, York university should have few problems putting TWU away, nonetheless; weird things can happen in sports. Kickoff in their quarter final is set for 11am PT.
York are veterans of this tournament, they have been to the most tournaments of any school other than UBC and have consistently been a powerhouse in University soccer in Canada. The 2018 nationals will be their first since they won it all in 2015, and they come into the tournament as one of the favourites.
The Lions finished in first for the OUA West regular season and ended their campaign with a seven game winning streak, bringing their record on the year to an earth shattering 17-0-3 . In the playoffs they outscored their opponents 7-1 en route to their championship win. Their immensely successful season saw four players named to the OUA West all-star team, with two others being named to the second team.
Defenders Daniel Gogarty and Josh Kisleyov led a backline which only conded 12 goal all season. They have the best defense of any team in the tournament, only conceding an average of .75 goals per game. Locking out the opposition has been one of the strong points for the Toronto side, but it is only one of the many things that has made York successful this season.
The Lion’s attack is menacing and multi-faceted. Omar Mazrouk drives them offensive although Jorgo Nika and Christian Cavallini have all had impressive career years in 2018. While they may not have the highest goals per game of teams at the tournament, the 2.75 times they find the back of the net is something to terrify opponents.
York comes into this tournament as favourites, and their experience will prove an invaluable advantage; especially in the early rounds where they are set to take on debutant teams. Getting past the first round should be a simple task for the Lions as they are up against TWU’s leaky defense.
It is the first USports national tournament for the Carleton University Ravens. They qualified as finalists of OUA West. They don’t boast an undefeated record like their OUA West counterparts, but they were close. They finished with a 14-1-1 record, with their only loss and draw coming against the York Lions.
Of all the offensive powerhouses at nationals, the Ravens goal scoring prowess is something special. Much like York their attack is multi-faceted, but something special to the ravens is the amount of goals scored by their top two strikers. Gabriel Bitar scored 13 goals for the Ottawa school and has been their “go-to” guy in the starting 11. While that goal scoring tally is impressive, it is even more mind boggling that their second leading scorer is Stefan Karajovanovic who has 12 goals despite primarily being used as a second half substitute. The ravens averaged nearly four goals per game throughout the season and will be looking to continue their goal scoring at nationals. their Their two headed attack is much like UBC’s duo of Caleb Clarke and Kristian Yli-Hietanen, With Hietanen being the second half super sub.
The Ravens defense is nothing too special, but their goalkeeper is among the best in all of USports. Nick Jeffs has made 27 saves in his last three matches and has proven to be the key piece to the ravens 0.44 goal against per game which led all of OUA in regular season play.
Carleton comes up against hosts UBC in the quarter final and will be playing in the night-cap on the tournaments opening night. The Ravens certainly don’t have the easiest path to the trophy, but taking down the hosts in the quarter-finals would give them some much needed momentum. Kickoff for that match is set for 6:30 PT at Thunderbird Stadium.
We’re half way through our USports soccer previews here at Van City Sport, and tomorrow we will look at the two schools from Quebec who will be hitting the pitch out at UBC.