An explosive win for York

Game winning scorer Jarek Whiteman fights off a defender. JOVAN MILLOSEVIC

Wayne Hudson
Sports and Health Editor

There were fireworks going off in the soccer match this past Saturday with our Lions at home against the Guelph Gryphons. With yet another team gunning for the Lions, the battleground was set. The visitors did not disappoint as they came out swinging from the moment the whistle sounded.

Game winning scorer Jarek Whiteman fights off a defender. JOVAN MILLOSEVIC

“It’s tough to play when every single team that comes out and plays you has your game circled,” says midfielder Adrian Pena. “Every single team wants a chance to beat York.”

The Lions engaged in their usual style of play, spreading the ball around, keeping shape, and using as much of the field as possible. However, Guelph started the show led by striker Robert Murphy. In the eighth minute, Murphy was able to put one in the back of the net after using his pace to split the defenders, take down a lob pass, and get past goalie Sotiri Vastokustas, ending his shut out streak and putting the Lions on the ropes early on.

The Lions tried to answer back as leading goal scorer Alon Badat crept in behind the defense and tried a low shot in the back corner. But his attempts were stopped by a diving save from Guelph’s goalkeeper Chad Paparoni. Although York attempted to persevere, they were not able to string together many effective passes in the opposing team’s end.

This only seemed to ignite Murphy and his fellow Gryphons as they put more pressure on. Murphy almost scored several more times in the first half. He nearly hammered home a turn around volley from over 25 yards in the top right hand corner but missed by inches, and again, 34 minutes in, when a hard header from him hit the post. Lions coach Carmine Isacco admits that Murphy is certainly a talented player.

“He’s a good player, he caused us many problems,” says Isacco. “But I think we handled him pretty well and limited his chances the best we could have, with him only scoring one goal.”

Guelph forward Timothy Flynn almost scored on a header that was just cleared off the line in time by Serge Ukety. The Lions answered back minutes later with a goal by Alon Badat, tying up the game 1-1. After shouldering past a defender, receiving the pass, and streaking to the goal, Badat shot the ball in the far right corner while being taken down by another defender. This uplifted the team, with them challenging Guelph play for play and creating a late surge by both teams before the half came to an end.

In the second half, the York offence started to come along bit by bit as the game progressed. In the 62nd minute defender Branko Majstorovic hit the crossbar on a long shot from outside the box. Minutes later after a series of give and go passes, Adrian Pena was taken down hard just before a scoring chance inside the opposing team’s box.

After creating more and more opportunities, the Lions finally completed the comeback with a goal by forward Jarek Whiteman. After beating his man on the outside yet again, he was able to streak towards the goal line, and fire a ground shot across the net, hitting mesh. He was not done there, almost scoring minutes later on a low-dipping shot that the Guelph keeper was just able to keep out.

Coach Isacco feels that the team is certainly progressing more and more with each game.

“I think we deal with the situation very well,” he says. “We got better character as we got back and fought. We’re honest and that’s how we came away with the win.”

While skeptics might doubt that York will make it a repeat year and win the CIS championship again, Adrian Pena isn’t worried.

“The confidence we have, we are going to repeat and we are going to win again next year,” he says. “That’s the confidence you need to have when you play for York.”

The Lions take the field at the Western Mustangs Saturday September 24.


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