The UTM men’s indoor soccer team took part in a tournament last week at the RAWC. This tournament also featured teams from Humber, Lakehead Orillia, Durham, and two from Sheridan. Pool A consisted of UTM, Sheridan (T) and Durham. Pool B consisted of Humber, Sheridan (D), and Lakehead Orillia. Coming into the tournament, many of the spectators felt that Humber was a shoo-in.
Each team was to play each other once, with the winner of each pool going to the semifinals, and the second and third of each pool playing the second and third from the other pool.
UTM drew their first two games against Sheridan (T) and Durham, 1–1 and 0–0, and ended second in Pool A. UTM then played the quarterfinal round versus Sheridan (D), who had lost their first two games versus Lakehead and Humber.
UTM started the game slow, as they had their first two games, and Sheridan took an early 1–0 lead. This sparked the UTM players into action, and they started passing the ball more and pressuring Sheridan on the ball.
This pressure paid dividends when UTM scored two quick goals that put them up 2–1. A defensive lapse allowed Sheridan to equalize again by halftime. During the half, the UTM players could be seen trying to rally their spirits to play better. Something about it worked, considering UTM scored five unanswered goals in the second half and the game ended 7–2 in their favour. UTM advanced to the semifinals to play against Humber.
The semifinal game versus Humber was very competitive right from the start. Both teams put up a solid defence and both goalies tried their best to keep their teams in the game. UTM played the better offensive game, passing the ball smoothly and getting their players one-on-one chances with the Humber goalie, which they made good on. UTM took a 3–1 lead into the half. This lead didn’t last long; in the second half, UTM gave away two penalties that allowed Humber to tie the game at 3–3. By this time a small crowd had gathered by the bleachers behind each goalpost. The fans cheered every time UTM got the ball and made a pass, and jeered every time Humber touched the ball.
UTM pressured the ball, and with 10.2 seconds left in the game UTM was awarded a penalty when a Humber defender slid in the penalty box (which isn’t allowed in indoor soccer). The crowd was ecstatic after the penalty was awarded and kept screaming after the penalty was scored. This screaming must have gotten under the skin of the Humber goalie; after the game, he rushed towards the crowd in an attempt to start a fight with someone out of frustration. He had to be held back by his coach and teammates.
The final was between UTM and Durham. Both teams had met earlier in the day and drew 0–0 in a defensive battle. This game was much more like the first game; the pressure advantage alternated from team to team and yielded a 0–0 tie by halftime.
In the second half the game opened up a little bit more, and UTM took a 2–0 lead. Durham pulled a goal back late, but it wasn’t enough. After the final buzzer, the UTM players congratulated each other and shook hands with all the teams who had played in the tournament.
Afterwards, championship t-shirts were presented to the players. Assistant coach Jordan Stinson, who had been by the bench for all three games, commented, “The whole tournament was an uphill battle from the start, but as we played more games we got used to each other and started playing better on all phases of the game. The guys played really well close to the end of the tournament.”
“Humber was the team to beat in this tournament, and after we won that game we felt like we could win it all,” said UTM central defender Eddy Dabire. :The whole tournament was tough because we had limited time between games, but I’m happy we won.”
UTM started the tournament off slow but finished strong. They passed the ball well and played well together at the end. Their confidence grew as the players began to trust each other more. The crowd came out to show their support, which is needed at more UTM games.