Wednesday, 9 November 2011
CIS Men's Championship - preview
The 2011 edition features eight teams, two from each of the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, and Canada West conferences. The teams are the Saint Mary's Huskies (AUS playoff champions), Cape Breton Capers (AUS season champions), Montreal Carabins (RSEQ champions), McGill Redmen (RSEQ finalists), McMaster Marauders (OUA champions), Toronto Varsity Blues (OUA finalists), Albert Golden Bears (CWUAA champions), and the host team, the UVic Vikes.
Today we will briefly preview all eight teams involved and show the path that the OUA teams would need to traverse to reach the championship final to lift the Sam Davidson memorial trophy.
Unlike the women's tournament, the men's tournament will crown a new champion as the Toronto Varsity Blues upset the reigning York Lions 4-1 last weekend in the OUA Final Four. Toronto finished second in the OUA East and dropped the OUA Final to McMaster by a 3-1 scoreline. A full preview of the Varsity Blues was done for the OUA Final Four previously. This is Toronto's third straight appearance and their seventh in ten years. The Varsity Blues lifted the trophy for the only time in 1988.
full preview of the Marauders was done for the OUA Final Four previously. The Marauders last played in the CIS Championships in 2009, finishing 7th as OUA Champions. They are still looking for their first Canadian Championship having lost in the finals twice in 1991 and 1992.
From the AUS come two strong teams in the Cape Breton Capers and Saint Mary's Huskies. Like McMaster, both teams are looking for their first championship with the Huskies having been four-time finalists (1979, 1989, 2000, and 2003) and the Capers never finishing better than 6th.
The AUS regular season champion Capers ran away with the title posting a 10-1-2 record on the season, scoring 43 goals and surrendering 15 along the way. Surprisingly, they only posted one clean sheet on the season. Their dominance of the AUS Conference garnered them a number 2 ranking in the country. They claimed three All-Stars on the first team in midfielder and AUS MVP Andrew Rigby, and strikers Keishen Bean and Ian Greedy. Bean and Greedy scored 16 and 11 goals respectively and were the driving force behind the Capers' offense as both are very fast players with good touch. The team had six other goal scorers. Midfielder Silvano Rajkovic was one of those with six goals and a second team All-Star, and defender Damion Vassell joined him there. Andrew Murphy played every minute in goal for the Capers en route to their league title and is a very capable goalkeeper but when he faced pressure he would make mistakes that led to goals against. The Capers are a very strong first half team, coming out and pressuring their opponents from the start but seemed to take their foot off the pedal as the game progressed. This is Cape Breton's third appearance at the CIS Championships, all coming within the last five years.
Defeated by a 3-2 scoreline in the RSEQ final, the McGill Redmen come into the CIS Championships as the 10th ranked in the country, posting a second place finish in the season with a 7-3-2 record. They scored 23 goals and only surrendered 11, only posting two clean sheets along the way. Like Montreal, they were aided by two forfeits as RSEQ Coach of the Year David Simon led the team to the team's second CIS appearance in his three years at the helm. This is McGill's twenty-first appearance at the tournament all told, winning it three times (1981, 1982, and 1997). This year the team features four All-Stars, two first team in defenders Alexis Pradié and Thomas Lucas and two second team in midfielder Yohann Capolungo and striker George Banks. Banks led the team with 5 goals while Pradié and Capolungo had 4 apiece.
Coming in from the west are another two historically strong teams. Both the Canada West Champion Alberta Golden Bears and host Victoria Vikes have won the title four times (1972, 1979, 2003, and 2006 for Alberta, and 1975, 1987, 1996, and 2004 for the host Vikes). This is the thirteenth appearance and second in a row for the Golden Bears and fourteenth and third in four years for the Vikes.
The host Victoria Vikes have the most to prove of any team besides Cape Breton. The Vikes rolled to top slot in Canada West with a 10-2-2 record, good enough to rank the team third in Canada. 25 goals scored and a conference-best 11 against did not hurt as the Vikes posted eight clean sheets along the way. Led by CW Coach of the Year Bruce Wilson, Victoria's rookie midfielder Cam Hundal was a second team All-Star and CW Rookie of the Year. Joining him as All-Stars, but garnering first team nominations were goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou, defender Gaving Barrett, and the team's top scorer with seven goals, midfielder Craig Gorman. Playing at home will give the Vikes a huge boost as they will look to improve on their 5th place finish in 2009.
The opening day's schedule begins at 14:00ET with Saint Mary's facing off against McGill. At 16:30ET Alberta faces Toronto. The losers from those two games will meet on Friday at 14:00ET and the winners at 19:30ET in the first semi-final.
The last two quarter-finals on Thursday kick off at 19:30ET between McMaster and Cape Breton and then the host team's matchup at 22:00ET between Montreal and Victoria. The losers of those two games meet on Friday at 16:30ET and the winners at 22:00ET in the second semi-final.
The fifth place game between the winners of the two early Friday games kicks off at 17:30ET on Saturday, setting the stage for the Bronze medal game Sunday at 14:30ET and the Championship Final goes at 17:00ET.
For McMaster to get to the final, they will have to topple the top ranked team at the tournament, Cape Breton and the winner of the Montreal/Victoria game. On the other side, Toronto will have to defeat Alberta and then the winner of the Saint Mary's/McGill game. McMaster has the tougher path, facing the three highest ranked teams at the tournament in their half of the bracket, including the host.
All of the games will be streamed live on SSNCanada.ca over the weekend.
The official CIS/SIC preview is also available. Gordon Smith of SSNCanada also has a preview of the men's championships for his Smith on Soccer show.
Thanks for Voodooman of the Red Patch Boys for his insights on the AUS conference, one I am most unfamiliar with.