Monday, 7 November 2011

Weekend roundup - Nov 5/6 - OUA Final Fours

This weekend featured both the men's and women's OUA Final Four playoffs.

The men's Final Four was played in Ottawa at Carleton University's Keith Harris Stadium, and featured the host and OUA East champion Carleton Ravens, OUA West champion York Lions, University of Toronto Varsity Blues, and McMaster Marauders.

The women's Final Four was played in Waterloo at Laurier University. It featured the OUA West champions Laurier Golden Hawks, OUA East champions Queen's Gaels, McMaster Marauders, and Ottawa Gee Gees.

On Saturday, the women's Final Four featured identical matchups to the 2010 Final Four held in Kingston at Queen's University.

The first game of the day kicked off at noon and featured host Laurier against the Ottawa Gee Gees. The Gee Gees came in as the most offensive team in the country and the two teams were the two most defensive teams in the OUA.

As expected the game was very tight defensively, with neither team having many clear chances. Ottawa controlled the run of play early, but allowed Laurier into the game over the course of the first half. The teams went into halftime at 0-0.

Laurier came out the stronger team in the second half and took a 1-0 lead in the 58th minute when striker Emily Brown brought down a cross from Heather Malizia and fired the ball past Ottawa's goalkeeper Cynthia Leblanc.

Ottawa brought a lot of pressure on Laurier late in the game but were unable to actually create any solid chances and the few that they had, Laurier goalkeeper Mallory Woeller was able to claim, and the game ended with a 1-0 scoreline. The only blemish on the match was a caution to Ottawa's Kate Landry.

The second game featured the Queen's Gaels against the McMaster Marauders. I covered this game in detail previously. To summarize, the Gaels won by a 3-0 scoreline with Jacqueline Tessier scoring twice, in the 28th and 63rd, and Riley Filion finishing things off with a goal in the 87th.

Chantal Marson claimed the clean sheet as the Gaels clinched a spot in the CIS Championships to defend their CIS title.

The Gaels' second top scorer, Kelli Chamberlain, did not play at all during the semi-final due to an injury suffered the week before, but the depth of the Queen's team showed as they moved on to play the Laurier Golden Hawks for the third time in the past two seasons, all for championships.

On the men's side, the first game of the day featured the University of Toronto Varsity Blues playing against the number one ranked York Lions. I covered this game in detail over the weekend, and to summarize the events: Wow. This game certainly lived up to my billing of a top game to watch. York opened the scoring in the 5th minute on a goal from striker Adrian Pena. Toronto tied it in the 11th with a goal from midfielder Ezequiel Lubocki. York's top scorer Alon Badat had a penalty saved by Toronto goalkeeper John Smits in the 25th and was removed from the game with injury moments later. York then lost one of their centrebacks, Charlie Trafford by the 30th minute of the match.

The game was tied 1-1 at half. The second half was equally as explosive as in the 60th, York's Branko Masjstorovic was shown a straight red card for tackling James Greatorex in the area. Lubocki converted the penalty to give Toronto the 2-1 lead. They added to that lead with a chipped goal from Geoffrey Borgmann in the 75th, and iced the game with Jermaine Burrell deflected a clearance into the York goal in the 90th minute to make the final 4-1.

After the stop by Smits on the penalty, he only had one further save to make in the game as the Toronto squad took a huge amount of confidence from the play and began to dominate the game. York never seemed to recover from the stop and the dismissal in the 60th further compounded their misery. Adrian Pena tried to lift his team late but was unable to do so, allowing Toronto to head to their third CIS Championship berth in succession.

The second game featured McMaster against Carleton and, like the earlier game, this game was fantastic to watch. It was a rematch of the 2009 OUA semifinal, won by McMaster in penalties. This one ended the same way. McMaster scored in the 7th minute on a goal by Mark Reilly. Reilly had a good chance to double the lead fifteen minutes later but was denied by the Ravens goalkeeper Mark Krocko. Josh Dewar-Morris brought Carleton back into the game with a long shot into the top corner in the 31st minute to tie things up at 1-1. After that goal, McMaster found themselves on the back foot and enjoyed the half-time whistle.

Both teams came out strong in the second half, with McMaster on the slight upper foot. They put the ball into the back of the net in the 63rd minute but it was called back for being offside. Carleton took a very quick free kick while the Marauders were celebrating and almost scored a goal of their own seconds later. Carleton's captain Samuel McHugh gave his team the lead within ninety seconds as he fired a shot from well outside the penalty area into the top corner of the net to make it 2-1.

With the deficit, McMaster stepped up their play eventually scoring on a header from Reilly in the 90th minute, just as injury time began. Both teams played hard in extra time with the Ravens having the better of the chances. Only McMaster's goalkeeper Matthew Grant was able to keep the game even to send it to penalties. For McMaster Anthony Costa, Aaron Boothe, Mark Reilly, Daniel Niksic, and their #17 all scored. Carleton's Sam McHugh took their first shot and had the goalkeeper beaten on a chip but hit the crossbar. Their other shooters Caki Simrooglu, Joey Kewin, and Kristian Quosdorf all scored, but McMaster won the game 2-2 (5-3) to move onto the OUA Finals.

Sunday featured the championships games for both men and women, but before those were played, the third place matches were on tap. On the men's side, the York Lions and Carleton Ravens were playing for pride while the Ottawa Gee Gees and McMaster Marauders were playing for the third OUA berth in the CIS Championships on the women's side.

The men's bronze medal game was a very relaxed affair between the two teams, with both playing a number of their non-regular starters and fifth year players. York started the game much stronger, penning Carleton into their own end. The first chance of the game came in the 15th minute when midfielder Daniel Alonzi's shot was pushed wide at the near post by Carleton's goalkeeper Simon Brown. The ensuing corner kick fell unchallenged into the goal area and Carlos Nogueira tallied a goal in the 17th minute to give York a 1-0 lead.

They doubled that lead on the final play of the first half when Carleton's Joey Kein pulled down Casey D'Mello in the penalty area, earning himself a caution and giving up a penalty shot. Luigi Oliverio made no mistake and gave York a 2-0 lead.

Carleton was the stronger team in the second half, but York's goalkeeper Colm Vance, in his first start for the team, kept a clean sheet for his team and earned them the bronze medal. Carleton's Caki Simrooglu earned the only other caution of the game.

The bronze medal game on the women's side between Ottawa and McMaster was a rematch of last year's OUA bronze medal match, but this time a berth in the CIS Championships was on the line.

Neither team came out and took control of the game as both teams struggled to get a grasp on things. In the 22nd minute, Julia Francki fired in a beautiful goal from about 25 yards out and put the ball into the top corner to give Ottawa the 1-0 lead. Six minutes later Corina Jarrett doubled the lead to 2-0. The rest of the half was dominated by the Gee Gees but they could not add to their lead.

The Marauders came out the stronger team in the second half putting Ottawa's goalkeeper Cynthia Leblanc under a lot of pressure. Leblanc stepped up and made some fantastic stops to keep McMaster off the scoreboard and this allowed Ottawa to tally two more goals in the game, one by Krista Draycott in the 53rd minute and the fourth and final goal of the match by Tara Condos in the 74th minute.

Four cautions were shown in the match, two to each team. Brittany Harrison and Gillian Baggot were cautioned for Ottawa while Adrienne Harrison and Stephanie Davis saw yellow for McMaster. With the bronze medal win, Ottawa earned a berth in the 2011 CIS Championships this coming weekend.

There was a scary ending to the game as right at the start of injury time the heads of McMaster defender Lyndsie Hemrica and Ottawa midfielder Christine Hardie collided in the penalty area. Hardie was up moments later, but Hemrica stayed down on the pitch motionless for almost twenty minutes until the ambulance arrived. Radio Laurier reported that Hemrica had never lost consciousness and that she was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons. Hopefully her injury was not severe and that she's healthy again soon.

The women's gold medal match that followed was between Queen's and Laurier. This was the third time in two years that they had met with a championship on the line. Last year Laurier defeated Queen's in Kingston by a 1-0 score to win the OUA Championship. A week later the two teams faced off in the CIS Championship in PEI with Queen's winning the game 1-0. If nothing else, the two teams are very evenly matched.

This game proved that point entirely. Throughout the game both teams had several good chances, often created due to defensive errors. Queen's goalkeeper Chantal Marson was called on several times to make big saves to keep the game scoreless and her counterpart at the other end of the pitch Mallory Woeller did the same for Laurier.

At the end of regulation the score was still tied at 0-0 with the only time the ball was in either net was when a Laurier goal was called back due to a player being offside on a free kick chance midway through the second half. Five cautions were shown during the course of the game, two to Queen's with both of their strikers seeing yellow, Jacqueline Tessier and Breanna Burton. Laurier had two defenders shown a card in Nicole Currie and Jessica Carter, and striker Krista Cellucci also was cautioned. Tessier was carried off the field in the final minute of the game, and did not return for extra time. Laurier's midfielder Heather Malizia also had to be helped off the field with an injury, and she did not return either.

The game went through extra time with Queen's only getting one chance on a Mikyla Kay free kick and Laurier getting one chance in each half. Neither team could score and the game was destined to be resolved by kicks from the mark. Queen's was to shoot first and all five of their players tallied goals with Summer Rybicki, Kay, Brienna Shaw, Alexis McKinty, and Melissa Jung scoring. Laurier's goals came from Kelsey Tikka, Tania Pedron, and Becca Isaacs, and Chantal Marson stopped the shot from Alyssa Lagonia, stopping the ball in the lower left side of the net. The stop was enough to give Queen's the win and their first OUA Championship banner since 2002. It was their fifth such title overall.

McMaster Marauders - 2011 OUA Champs
c/o McMaster Athletics and
Murray McComb Photography
On the men's side, the Varsity Blues faced the McMaster Marauders in the gold medal game. McMaster featured several returning players from their 2009 OUA Championship side and the Blues featured much of the same team as their 2010 Championship side. Both teams faced each other in the 2009 match played at Toronto's Varsity Stadium.

The Marauders controlled the game in the first half eventually scoring in the 20th on a goal from striker Paterson Farrell off a corner kick. The Blue almost tied the game in the last minute of the first half as midfielder Dylan Bams got the ball past Marauders goalkeeper Angelo Cavaluzzo but defender Robert Scholosser cleared the ball off the line to hold the McMaster lead at 1-0 at half-time.

The second half started similar to the first with the Blues having trouble getting into the McMaster end. In the 59th minute McMaster midfielder Brandon Gutierrez doubled their lead when he tapped a rebound into the net. Eight minutes later, Blues top scorer Mario Kovacevic scored off of a Toronto corner kick, putting the ball into the bottom corner. He almost scored again in the 75th but Cavaluzzo got his hands on the ball to keep the game at 2-1. Toronto pressed hard in the last fifteen minutes, but Farrell put the game beyond reach on a counter attack in injury time to give McMaster the 3-1 lead and win.

In the next couple of days, we give some previews of the CIS Championships being held next weekend in Victoria (men's) and Montreal (women's), along with the potential paths to the finals that the OUA teams will have to take. To wrap things up today, here's a video from the Queen's Gaels with the celebrations and some post-match interviews:

Note: All videos care of Laurier Athletics, except the final one care of Queen's Athletics.

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