Posted on: November 10, 2017
KAMLOOPS, B.C. (U SPORTS) – The host Thompson Rivers University WolfPack upset the York University Lions to move to Championship side semifinals of the 2017 Respect Group/USPORTS men’s soccer nationals.
A second half goal helped propel the Pack to a 1-0 win over the OUA champion Lions in the third match of the opening day of play.
This game started like a prize fight. Both the Lions and the WolfPack were feeling each other out. TRU not bending to the rich pedigree of the York program.
The first two good scoring chances came from the WolfPack. This included a reverse bicycle kick by James Fraser (2nd year, forward, Penticton, BC) in the 26th minute. Fraser entered the match with four goals in the post season.
The teams went into the dressing room scoreless with the home crew holding a 4-3 shots advantage.
The WolfPack took the lead in the 60th minute. USPORTS first team all-Canadian Mitch Popadynetz (4th year, midfield, Nelson, BC) took a free kick after teammate Justin Donaldson (3rd year, midfield, Kamloops, BC) was hauled down on a run. Popadynetz placed the ball into box where Canada West rookie all-star Joshua Banton (1st year, defender, London, England) directed the ball into the net.
Banton earned the distinction of scoring the school’s ever USPORT Nationals goal.
“I knew that with Mitchy being on the ball—he is a fantastic hitter on the ball, “ Barton said. “ I had a mismatch on my man. I knew if he hit me it would go in. But I thought the entire time I was heading it wide,” he laughed.
The match was spirited but got out of hand for York when in the 68th minute, Lions defender Francesco Sinopoli (3rd year defender ,Maple, ON) was given a red card when he picked up the ball and hit Popadynetz in the back of the head. That forced York to play with 10 men for the rest of the match.
York had a great chance in the 80 th minute, when off a corner kick, the Lions Omar Marzouk (1st year, forward, North York, ON) headed the ball but Connor made the save in traffic.
“We didn’t execute enough in the final third,” said York head coach Carmine Isaco afterwards.” We didn’t execute well in our transition. At nationals it is the little things that make the difference.”
He thought there was a lot of posturing in the first half. “It took us a while to figure it out. We kind of went the direct route a little too early and too much. We should have been more patient with the ball.”
TRU head coach John Antulov thought it “ Biggest win in our history without question against one of the top ranked teams in the nation. They are well coached and fantastic. Our guys really showed what we can do on the national stage. We knew that as we continue to grow and build and once they started to believe in themselves—we can compete. We are starting to see that come to fruition now.”
To see full interview with coach Antulov: click here
Quillan Roberts (5th year, Brampton, ON) and Allan Connor (5th year Kamloops, BC) were the respective keepers. Connor appearing in only his fourth match of the season.