TORONTO - George Brown College plays host to the 2018 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Men's Soccer Championship presented by belairdirect, beginning Thursday.
All three of last year's OCAA medalists return to the big stage, including the defending provincial gold medalist Durham Lords, the three-time runners-up Algonquin Thunder, and bronze winner Humber Hawks.
Four OCAA quarter-final matches take place on Thursday, leading to Friday's semi-finals. The semi-final winners advance to Saturday's gold medal match, while the losing teams play for bronze. Losing teams in the quarter-finals compete in a consolation round.
The other five teams advancing to provincials include the host George Brown Huskies, Fanshawe Falcons, Niagara Knights, Sheridan Bruins and UTM Eagles.
The OCAA champion and runner-up advances to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Soccer National Championship in Charlottetown, P.E.I., from Nov. 7-10.
Niagara (7-2-1, 2nd West) vs. Humber (7-1-2, 1st Central)
Thursday, Oct. 25 - 9 a.m.
Niagara is one of two teams at the championship looking to reach the OCAA podium for the first time. The Knights have played in the OCAA bronze medal game in back-to-back years, only to come away empty handed.
Fittingly, the team Niagara lost the bronze medal to in 2017 is its opening opponent this year.
The Knights are led offensively by first-year forward Oti Frigole (St. Catharines) who scored 11 goals. Not surprisingly, he scored the opening goal in Niagara's 2-1 win over Seneca in the qualifying game.
Humber needed a tie against Sheridan in its regular season finale to secure a bye to the championship. Fourth-year forward Luca Baldassarre (Woodbridge) and second-year midfielder Federico Leal (Orleans) were Humber's co-leaders with seven goals each.
UTM (2-6-2, 4th Central) vs. Fanshawe (9-0-1, 1st West)
Thursday, Oct. 25 - 12 p.m.
The UTM Eagles are the other team in search of a first-ever OCAA medal, albeit in only four short years as a program.
UTM is the only sub-.500 team at the championship, advancing on the strength of a 5-1 upset win at Redeemer in the crossover on Saturday. First-year forward Jamari Whyte (Brampton), who led the Eagles with six regular season goals, scored a pair against Redeemer.
Perhaps UTM's win is a sign of how strong the Central Division is, with half the championship field coming from this division.
Fanshawe is one of three undefeated teams competing at the championship. The Falcons tied Algonquin and Sheridan with the least number of goals given up in the regular season (seven).
Fanshawe boasts a lethal combination of strikers Mike Sneddon (Mount Brydges) and Ben Vyfschaft (London) who were the OCAA's top duo with 25 goals to their credit.
George Brown (5-1-4, 3rd Central) vs. Algonquin (7-1-2, 1st East)
Thursday, Oct. 25 - 3 p.m.
Algonquin is looking for a fifth straight trip to nationals, but will need to knock off the championship host to get a shot.
After a slow start when they won just one of their first four matches, the Thunder have won seven straight. Offensively, strikers Marco Natoli (Ottawa) and Shamir Lubenga (Congo) led Algonquin with 10 goals each.
George Brown was part of the competitive Central Division, and is the only team to defeat first-place Humber during the regular season. (Conversely, Humber is the only team to defeat George Brown in the double round robin schedule).
Second-year George Brown midfielder Filipe Vilela (Toronto) led all OCAA players with 14 goals scored during the regular season.
Sheridan (5-0-5, 2nd Central) vs. Durham (6-0-4, 2nd East)
Thursday, Oct. 25 - 6 p.m.
As luck would have it, two of the three undefeated teams at this year's provincials will meet in the final quarter-final on Thursday.
Despite going undefeated, both the Bruins and Lords had to play their way into the championship. Sheridan defeated Centennial on the road 3-0, while Durham edged St. Clair 2-1 at home in crossover matches.
Durham is the reigning OCAA champion, and is looking for back-to-back titles for the first time in program history. The Lords gave up just eight goals during the regular season, and tied both 2017 gold medal rematches with Algonquin.
Third-year striker Jeremy Bangala (Pickering) led the Lords with 13 goals during the regular season.
Sheridan tied both of its matches with first-place Humber during the regular season. The Bruins are led offensively by third-year midfielder Francis Ameyaw (Brampton) and his six regular season goals.
Championship Website: ocaachampionships.com/championships/msoc/2018-19/index
Live Webcast: sportscanada.tv/georgebrown
Thursday, October 25
Game #1: Niagara vs. Humber - 9 a.m.
Game #2: UTM vs. Fanshawe - 12 p.m.
Game #3: George Brown vs. Algonquin - 3 p.m.
Game #4: Sheridan vs. Durham - 6 p.m.
Friday, October 26
Game #5: Loser Game #1 vs. Loser Game #2 - 9 a.m.
Game #6: Loser Game #3 vs. Loser Game #4 - 12 p.m.
Game #7: Winner Game #1 vs. Winner Game #2 - 3 p.m.
Game #8: Winner Game #3 vs. Winner Game #4 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 27
Game #9: Winner Game #5 vs. Winner Game #6 - 9 a.m.
Bronze Medal Match
Game #10: Loser Game #7 vs. Loser Game #8 - 12 p.m.
Winning team presented OCAA Bronze Medal at conclusion of match
Gold Medal Match
Game #11: Winner Game #7 vs. Winner Game #8 - 3 p.m.
OCAA Gold and Silver Medals presented at conclusion of match
- OCAA -
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