The UTM Eagles mens soccer team finished the season undefeated with a record of 4 — 0 — 2, as it beat UTSC 2 to 1 in a thrilling championship match.
Last year, the UTM Eagles mens soccer team failed to reach the championship game for the first time in three years, so this season many spectators thought that the Eagles had something to prove.
Having lost a number of key players last year due to graduation and academic ineligibility, Coach Omar saw this as a rebuilding year. He found room for optimism during the pre-season try-outs with a number of standout freshman and players.
As the defending champions, UTSC displayed their composure and experience by creating two chances within the first ten minutes. Both strikes, however, were blocked by the Eagles defense.
The first clear opportunity of the game fell to UTM in the 14th minute from a UTM corner kick. The ball swung into the near post and seemed to go through everyone before eventually finding its way to UTMs Anthony Said. The UTSC goalkeeper managed to recover in time to block the shot as Said fired the ball towards the net.
Despite building up their momentum from the close opportunity, the Eagles found themselves struggling to clear their lines from a long ball forward by UTSC. The Eagles played the ball inside to John Figol, who found two UTSC players right on his back. UTM lost possession, and the UTSC players broke across the width of the Eagles box. As the defense scrambled, play opened up for the UTSCs midfielder Steve Martino to have a strike at the ball, and eventually hit a crisp strike low and hard into the bottom left corner of the UTM net.
As the first half progressed, the game became scrappy, with not many more chances for either team really materializing apart from one at the 35th minute for UTSC. Fortunately for the Eagles, Paolo Zaffino made a great challenge on the back post to disrupt the advancing UTSC forward.
Towards the end of the first half, UTM players John Figol and Bryan Bourguignon both came out of the game with injuries. The first half ended with 0 — 1 to UTSCs advantage.
As the second half started, Coach Omar made some roster changes, moving Bourguignon to the left wing and pushing Ernesto Raurell up to play on the right side of midfield.
The change paid off five minutes later as UTMs Shingo Nozaka made a defensive play and passed the ball wide across the defensive line to Waleed Malik, who advanced about 20 yards with the ball. The UTSC fullback pushed up to pressure the ball. Raurell broke in behind the defensive line and was played a beautiful ball by Malik.
Raurell put his head down and drove to the byline, before trying to drive in a cross to Rocha, who had pulled away at the back post. The UTSC fullback recovered and blocked the cross. Raurell flicked the ball, hit the UTSC player in the hand and gained a penalty shot for the Eagles.
Eagles Neil DSilva walked up to take the penalty shot. Despite the enormous pressure, DSilva dispatched the spot kick in the bottom left corner of the net, sending UTSCs goalie in the wrong direction and putting the game even at 1 — 1.
Rivalry was rampant and the Referee warranted a red card to UTSCs Nav Chahal after an overly aggressive play, a call that the UTSC coaching staff and bench argued against.
As the game progressed, UTM played their own style of play and imposed their will on the game. The fans started to see the kind of free flowing attacking soccer that had carried the Eagles to an undefeated season, and UTSC couldnt cope.
A man up as a result of the red card, UTM started to become a little undisciplined defensively as Malik and Zaffino, the full backs, started to play higher and leave gaps in behind. This lead to a few moments of uncertainty as UTSC started to target these areas and create legitimate scoring chances.
Around 15 minutes from the end, UTM hit UTSC on the counter attack. UTSC were caught being too overly aggressive with their offensive schemes and turned the ball over again. Nozaka recovered and played the ball directly down the line to Raurell, who powered forward before turning the ball inside to Jaime Gonzalez. Gonzalez clipped the ball to Rocha, who placed a left-foot volley into the far corner of the net. With 12 minutes left on the clock, the game stood at UTM — 2 UTSC — 1.
A flash point occurred, however, as the game crept into injury time.
During the play, Bourguignon crept out to the right wing and received the ball, only to get tackled by UTSCs Anthony Barriffe. The officials did their best to keep the game under control as both teams players and coaching staff exchanged heated words.
The final whistle blew for full time, and the crowd rose to salute the UTM Eagles as they became the 2009 mens tri-campus