History was made on Wednesday at UTM’s South Field as the first-ever campus rec intramural outdoor soccer league came to a conclusion.
The league began with five teams playing 11-a-side soccer on the North Field. Severe rain and poor field conditions forced the cancellation of the last two weeks of the regular season games, so the final standings were calculated from the games that had already been played. The top four teams advanced to the playoffs. The semifinals took place last Tuesday, and the final was held on the following day.
The first-seeded Man-Chest-Hair United team, primarily made up of UTM staff members and a few students, faced the tough CUAUTM FC team in the semifinals. With a total of only seven players, Man-Chest-Hair almost scored 30 seconds into the game when the CUA goalkeeper was forced to dive on the ball out of the box to prevent a breakaway goal. The play earned the keeper a red card and put the CUA team down to 10 players.
The first half ended with CUA up by a score of 1–0. The second half was all Man U: they pressed and got the equalizing goal, and then scored again with less than a minute left in the game on a free kick from just outside the box. Mehdi Salemi ran over the ball and headed toward the goal, while Paul Murray chipped the ball across the box to the far post, where Mark Higgins chested the ball down. The ball rolled right to the foot of a breaking-in Salemi, who blasted the ball into the bottom corner to make the final score 2–1 for Man U.
In the other semi, the second-seeded Wheeler Nailers faced the third-seeded Ginger Ninjas. The Ninjas were looking to avenge a 2–0 regular season loss to the Nailers. Playing with only eight players, the Nailers were under constant pressure from the Ginger Ninjas.
The Ninjas scored two first-half goals, one at the 11-minute mark by Tianyi Sun and then another right before half-time by Kunga Woeser. That second goal seemed to take all the steam out of the already shorthanded Nailers. The Ninjas controlled the second half but could not add to their final score of 2–0.
Since the final was to be held the very next day, the two teams had less than 24 hours to rest. The Ninjas were out in full force for the final with a full 14-player squad. Man-Chest-Hair United could only muster nine players.
The Ninjas scored the opening goal early in the game when Mousa Dojjani got control of a loose ball in the box and scored on a nice volley to the bottom corner. With less than 30 seconds to go in the first half, Dojjani struck again to make the score 2–0. Like the Ninjas’ goals had done to the Nailers in the semi, that late last goal seemed to take its toll on the Man U team. Early in the second half, Daryl Nu Nam Young was able to chip the goalie from distance to find the top corner of the net from just outside the box to make it 3–0. Two late goals sealed Man-Chest-Hair’s fate at 5–0 and thrust the Ginger Ninjas into UTM campus rec intramural history as the first men’s outdoor soccer league champions.
Program coordinator Jack Krist was happy with the turnout for this brand new league. “UTM has some of the finest grass fields on all of the three U of T campuses, and with all the campus rec indoor soccer players at UTM, taking the game to the fields was an easy decision,” he said. “We had five good teams this year, and I’m looking to grow the league for next year. All teams were able to play at least three games. And with better luck in the weather next year and some more teams, many more students can enjoy this exciting league.”