The battle of Toronto took place Saturday afternoon. The Varsity Blues men’s soccer team traveled to York University to play in the CIS semi-final playoff round. After extra time was needed to decide who would play McMaster in the finals, York scored in the second half, securing a 1-0 victory. The Blues let their frustration out on Sunday, defeating the Ryerson Rams in the bronze medal game.
York forward Alyson Fisher scored on a nice shot inside the 18-yard box after fending off Blues defenders. His shot was too much for the Blues goaltender to handle. Toronto didn’t give up on the goal—they stormed back minutes, later attacking the York net, but to no avail, and Devante Brown’s shot hit the side of the net.
The Blues came into the playoffs ranked sixth nationally, the York Lions ranked second. York had come away as the CIS champions the past two years, setting the record with 33 consecutive wins before that streak ended this year against McMaster, a team they’ll look to exact revenge on in the finals.
The last time the Blues won a men’s soccer championship was in 2010.
U of T finished the season with an 11-3-2 record, giving them second place in the East division, while York finished first in the West division with a 13-1-2 record.
The Blues made it into the semi-finals by defeating the Queen’s Gaels on November 1 with a score of 1-0. Their only goal of the game came in the 44th minute when second-team all-star Narin Sivanathan received a cross from the opposite side of the field, kicking the ball past the keeper into the top-left corner of the net.
“Work hard, train hard, and look ready for Saturday,” said Sivanathan in a postgame interview with Varsity Blues media. He figured that the five days of training to prepare for their fierce York opponent would be good enough, but it ended up not being enough since the Blues had to settle for the bronze medal game against the Ryerson Rams last Sunday.
Sivanathan was one of the Blues’ most outstanding players this season, scoring six goals in the regular season and, more importantly, scoring the game-winning goal in their playoff matchup last week.
Other notable players include first-team all-star defender Devon Bowyer of Toronto and Lukas MacNaughton of Brussels, Belgium. The two powerhouses in the backfield were a big reason the Blues were one of the teams to surrender the least amount of goals in the CIS; they gave up 11 goals in 16 games played this regular season. Midfielder Nikolay Saveliev of Nagoya, Japan received first-team all-star honors, scoring two goals this season on 21 shots. Midfielder Yousef Helmy was named East Division Rookie of the Year because, as a freshman, he started 15 of 16 regular season games, scoring one goal on 19 shots.
Blues goaltender Rab Bruce-Lockhart has been tremendous all year, going 9-3-1 when starting. He had a 0.62 goals-against-average and .830 save percentage. Bruce-Lockhart was huge against the York Lions, stopping 12 shots and only allowing one goal in the net. He was the busier goalie of the afternoon—his counterpart only had to stop five Blues chances.
The Varsity Blues have made their way to the 2015 CIS championships after upsetting the Ryerson Rams 3-0 at York Stadium on Sunday.
The Rams, who are ranked fourth nationally, have been defeated by the Blues twice now in the past three weeks.
Blues third-year forward Dakar Charles opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Charles ran after a lobbed pass from a Blues midfielder and put the ball past Rams goaltender Praveen Ahilan.
Sivananthan added to Toronto’s lead in the 36th minute. The long ball hurt Ryerson yet again when Ahilan came out to challenge the ball, but Sivanathan beat him to the ball and scored from 25 yards away.
Antonio Ajhert scored his first goal of the playoffs, securing the win in the 52nd minute. He received a pass from Sivanathan, who beat Rams defenders moments earlier.
The Varsity Blues will now join second-ranked York Lions and the McMaster Marauders at the CIS Championships on November 12 to 15 at York Stadium.