UTM’s varsity soccer program became UTM’s first ever OCAA varsity tournament champions when they defeated Sheridan in the Sheridan Bruins’ indoor soccer invitational tournament.
The Eagles started the tournament drawing Conestoga College 0-0, followed by a 2-1 win against George Brown. On defence, the Eagles performed well in both matches—Conestoga College played a very intense, fast-paced game, and although we were able to match them defensively, we lacked the finishing edge. The Eagles performed much better in the second match against George Brown, scoring two goals in an exciting matchup.
UTM was able to advance out of Pool B to face Redeemer University College in the semifinals, where we had a tough game. Redeemer had knocked UTM out of a previous indoor soccer tournament, and the Eagles were eager to beat them in the rematch. Despite a spirited Redeemer defence, UTM was advanced to score and held on to the finals on a goal by Zack Cassar.
The Eagles faced a very strong Bruins side in the finals. The home team was heavily favoured to win the tournament, and were strong favourites for the match. But despite being the underdogs, UTM played a strong, fluid game and beat the Bruins confidently, winning 3-0. Andrew Kim, Eddy Dabire, and Kojo Awuah all bagged goals during the strong play.
“Indoor and outdoor are two very different games,” says coach Robert Brown on whether this success can be translated to the field in the future. Different skillsets, tactics, and playstyles are involved. But, he says, “We are starting to lay a good foundation for the soccer program that will lead to success through the whole program.”
Star midfielder Eddy Dabire believes the win is especially important because the program is off to a strong start. In his opinion, the defence was particularly a strength for the Eagles—they “showed great incentive and hard work tracking back in defence and holding our shape as a unit”. Goalkeeper Jacob Monaco agrees, adding that he feels the play is very strong and that UTM is well-positioned for future tournaments.
Defender Kojo Awuah was delighted by the strong overall performance of the team in this tournament. “Although we had some rough patches, we played well overall and I really think myself and the team found our identity,” he said.
Brown praised the Eagles’s performance in their first season as a varsity program. The team had confidence uncommon in young programs, as well as a very high level of teamwork and solidarity that came through in the team goals. The Eagles never looked outmatched against powerful teams like Redeemer or Sheridan.
By bringing home their first trophy, the Eagles have shown that they can go toe-to-toe against any team in the OCAA and come out on top. With this win, the Eagles will advance to regionals on Tuesday with the possibility of qualifying for provincials on March 20–21.