U Sports Men's Soccer Championship Hosted by the UBC Thunderbirds

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It's been 11 years since the U Sports men's soccer championship was held here on campus — and was won on this campus, too, by the UBC Thunderbirds. It's been four seasons since UBC men's soccer hoisted that championship banner at any championship tournament.

Last year, they came close. Going in as a title-favourite, the ’Birds faced an upset loss against the Montreal Carabins in the semi-finals. A loss to the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack in the bronze medal match followed, leaving them out of medal placing. It's been another year and Mike Mosher's Thunderbirds roster looks almost unrecognizable compared to last year's team who faced those eye-opening defeats on the championship stage in 2017. With the likes of Tommy Gardner, Daniel Kaiser, Sean Einarsson, Riley Pang and Nick Fussel joining veterans like Karn Phagura, Jason Roberts, Mackenzie Cole and Zach Verhoven, UBC has found an intimidating winning formula this year — great timing, too, as they are set to host nationals starting Thursday, November 8 to Sunday, November 11.

They've got some stiff competition coming from further East, including reigning champions the Cape Breton Capers and their 2017 national title dream-destroyers the Montreal Carabins, plus several other teams who are hungry for gold. Throughout the weekend, tune back in here to keep up-to-date on the U Sports men's soccer nationals tournament.

Claire Lloyd

From Thursday, November 8 to Sunday, November 11, the UBC Thunderbirds men's soccer team will be hosting the U Sports national championships here on campus — The Ubyssey is here to keep you updated all weekend.

Here is the breakdown of the schedule for Sunday's final games:

Sunday:

11 a.m.: Trinity Western vs. Carleton (bronze medal game)

2 p.m.: Cape Breton vs. Montreal (gold medal game)

Scroll through the above map for further details on each team.

Tickets for the tournament are available here.

Bronze medal match: Carleton Ravens claim bronze with convincing win over Trinity Western Spartans

By Ryan Neale

Carleton Ravens with their bronze medal.
Carleton Ravens with their bronze medal. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

In the opening match of Sunday's national grand finale, the Carleton Ravens would be the first team to win a medal in the tournament, defeating the Trinity Western Spartans 3-0 and winning the bronze medal.

Both teams were hoping to play better after disappointing losses in the semifinal rounds. For Carleton, they were outmatched against Cape Breton 5-2 on Friday, while Trinity Western was defeated by Montreal 3-1 in extra time.

The Ravens were first to come out swinging. Stefan Karajovanovic drew Carleton goalkeeper Sebastian Colyn out of position, granting Gabriel Bitar an open goal — a shot he wouldn’t miss, smashing it into the top right corner in the 25th minute.

Gabriel Bitar wins a header for Carleton.
Gabriel Bitar wins a header for Carleton. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

The first half drew to a close with the Spartans applying some pressure, but they were ultimately unable to really test Carleton netminder Nick Jeffs.

Picking up where they left off in the first, Trinity Western continued their persistent comeback attempt, but were again stopped in their tracks when the Ravens doubled their lead. This time, Ravens’ Christopher Malekos scored a lucky goal as the ball took a couple of deflections before bouncing in.

Fuelled by the sudden momentum swing, Bitar sprinted down the left wing with the ball before blasting it from 20-yards out to stretch Carleton’s lead to 3-0.

Christopher Malekos celebrates his goal for Carleton.
Christopher Malekos celebrates his goal for Carleton. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

The Spartans would get a few chances to get one back in the final phases, but they were unable to convert.

“The day off yesterday really helped out, the tournament has been very tough … we wanted to come out today and show our quality,” said Ravens head coach Kwesi Loney. “This has been one of our goals from the very beginning. Obviously, we wanted to play in the game at two o’clock, but we’re very happy to be here, very happy to medal.”

Consolation final: Ndiaye’s goal proves the game winner as Citadins tame Lions and claim fifth at nationals

By Brendan Smith

After a freezing end to the second day of the men’s national soccer championships yesterday, the sun was out and shining as the Universite de Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) Citadins and York University Lions finished their respective seasons with the consolation final. Ultimately, it was the Citadins who came away with the 1-0 win and claimed the fifth place finish thanks to some opportunistic scoring.

As expected, the game was a tight defensive match. The Lions’ methodical approach had trouble breaking down UQAM’s defense — a line that stymied Cape Breton and UBC in their previous games, though Cape Breton would find its way to a win against the Quebec side.

In the 39th minute, the scoring opened with a goal by UQAM forward Malick Ndiaye who pounced on a rebound in the box. Ndiaye almost got another on a breakaway in stoppage time, but it was turned away by York goalkeeper Mike Argyrides. The half ended with the Citadins ahead 1-0.

In the 74th minute, it looked as though the Citadins would add to their lead. Ndiaye launched a strike on net that was initially saved by Argyrides, but the keeper fumbled the ball — making it appeared to have crossed the goal line — before he reached back to grab it. But without any video review to confirm the goal, play continued on with the score remaining 1-0.

In the end, that incident didn’t come back to haunt the Citadins, as they managed to contain the Lions attacking unit in the second half and eventually came away with the 1-0 victory.

After the game, UQAM head coach Christophe Dutarte was upbeat about his team’s performance throughout the tournament.

“We will finish like the finalist for the gold medal, with two wins and one loss, so it’s a positive result. We did it a different way, but it’s positive … all in all, it’s good for this young group who have learned a lot, ” said Dutarte through a translator.

Both UQAM and York will now transition into their respective off-seasons, as the tournament itself wraps up tomorrow with two medal games.

The first game will feature the Trinity Western Spartans and Carleton Ravens competing for the bronze medal. In the gold medal match, it is a rematch of last year’s national final as the Université de Montréal Carabins looks to avenge last year’s defeat with a win over the reigning champion Cape Breton Capers.

Both games are at Thunderbird Stadium, starting at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.

Game H: Capers punch ticket to national final with win over Ravens

By Ryan Neale

Cape Breton's Daniel Williams wins a foot race against Carleton.
Cape Breton's Daniel Williams wins a foot race against Carleton. Elizabeth Wang

The semi-final round of matches concluded with the reigning national champions Cape Breton Capers taking on the Carleton Ravens on a frigid Friday night at Thunderbird Stadium — a battle the Capers would eventually win 5-2.

Coming off a close and physical game against UQAM, the Capers looked to establish dominance early on as the favourites. In the other corner, the Ravens were rolling after an impressive upset over UBC.

The Capers were first to break the deadlock in the 14th minute with Stuart Heath getting his head on the ball off a corner kick courtesy of Lewis White.

The Raven’s, however, answered with a goal of their own in the 30th. Dario Conte exquisitely played the ball into the box where Ricky Comba redirected it with a header into the back of the net.

Not to be outdone, the Capers marched right back down the pitch to retake the lead five minutes later — this time, a deflected Ravens own-goal to put them up 2-1 at the break.

Cape Breton celebrates a goal.
Cape Breton celebrates a goal. Elizabeth Wang

The second half started with a bang: Capers forward Cory Bent sped down the wing to put the finishing touch on a Lewis White cross, scoring the fourth goal of the game. Up 3-1 and owning the momentum, Cape Breton continued to pressure the Ravens’ disorganized back line, creating a myriad of opportunities down the wings.

Heath tallied his second goal in the 75th minute (Cape Breton’s fourth on the night) using his head once again — as a result of a great long ball from Daniel Pritchard. To add insult to injury, the Capers netted their fifth goal of the game with Mitchell Wong getting in on the action in the 90th.

Carleton can take a little solace in the way the match ended: Tristan St. Pierre volleyed a loose ball from the edge of the 18-yard box to end the match on a high-ish note for the Ravens.

Final score: 5-2 Capers.

“We had dominance in the air against them, so we wanted to exploit that,” said Capers head coach Deano Morley, speaking to all five goals being scored from crosses.

Looking forward, Carleton will face the Trinity Western for third place on Sunday at 11 a.m. Cape Breton will take on Montreal in a rematch of last year’s final — which they won — on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

“[Montreal is] a very good side, a quality side, they’ve got some really dangerous players up top … we gotta be ready,” stressed Morley.

Game G: Carabins overcome Spartans to advance to the championship final for the second straight year

By Brendan Smith

The Universite de Montreal Carabins will have the chance for redemption this Sunday, as they are the first team to qualify for the final of the 2018 men’s soccer national championships. It wasn’t easy for the RSEQ heavyweights though, as they needed extra time to put away a determined Trinity Western Spartans squad.

Trinity Western bicycles kicks the ball out of harms way.
Trinity Western bicycles kicks the ball out of harms way. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

The teams started the game by exchanging scoring chances, but the first goal remained elusive. Then, in the 38th minute, the Carabins were awarded a penalty. Star striker Frederic Lajoie-Gravelle made no mistake on the shot. It was his tournament-leading fourth goal, putting the Carabins ahead 1-0 going into the intermission.

In the second half, Lajoie-Gravelle almost got his second of the game in the 77th minute, narrowly missing the bottom corner of the net on a counterattack.

Trinity Western didn’t quit, however, as they tied the game in the dying seconds of regulation in incredible fashion. A Spartan free kick lead to a mad scramble in the box, where Spartan defender Vaggeli Boucas delivered the goal of the tournament — bicycle-kicking the ball past Carabin goalkeeper Felix Goulet.

The last-minute heroics sent the game into extra time, where Montreal struck first and seized control. Carabins forward Guy-Frank Essome Penda headed home his first goal of the tournament in the opening minutes of overtime, before the Carabins added an insurance goal with another penalty kick in the 101th minute. This time, it was Zakaria Messoudi who scored, carefully placing his shot in the bottom right corner past Spartan goalie Sebastian Colyn — sealing the game and their place in the final.

Trinity's Dominic Poletto tussles for the ball against Montreal's Pierre Lamothe.
Trinity's Dominic Poletto tussles for the ball against Montreal's Pierre Lamothe. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

After the game, Montreal head coach Pat Raimondo spoke about playing in the national championship final — a game they lost a year ago.

“We’ve been chasing the Sammy Davidson [Memorial Trophy] for 18 years now. Cape Breton and Carleton … they’re both quality teams, they’re both well-coached teams so it’s going to be a hell of a final,” he said.

As mentioned, the Carabins will face the winner of Carleton and Cape Breton in the final, while Trinity Western will play the loser in the third-place game. Both games will take place this Sunday at Thunderbird Stadium.

Game F: Another game, another heartbreak as UBC men's soccer lose to Citadins in national consolation semi

By Lucy Fox

After a devastating 3-2 loss in overtime against Carleton yesterday evening — which took UBC out of the running for the national title — UBC head coach Mike Mosher fielded a new-look T-Birds team for their consolation semi against the Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins on Friday afternoon.

Again, it wouldn’t be UBC’s day — and again, it will be one UBC likely hopes to forget both for its 2-1 scoreline and the drama that ensued.

Compared to Thursday’s roster, seven new faces found their way into the T-Birds starting lineup: defenders Jora Saran and Manraj Bains, midfielders Mitch Piraux, Sam Fletcher and Dallin Akune and goalkeeper Chris Hansen-Barkun all got the call up for the game.

For fifth-year team veteran Karn Phagura, it was no surprise that Mosher could look to his bench for today's game.

"That's been our thing all season, the fact that we've been playing 23-man deep [roster], any of the subs ... have been able to come in any game of the season and maintain the standard. [You've] see that today, you can see that any game throughout the season. we have lots of quality."

That left star central defender Connor Guilherme to captain an unfamiliar starting 11 — a challenge he lived up to in the match, despite an overall lacklustre performance from the team.

Though UBC generally held possession throughout the match, two penalty kicks awarded off of tackles by Hansen-Barkun would see UQAM take a 2-1 lead by the midway point of the half. Guilherme would be UBC’s lone goalscorer on the night, with a 54th minute header goal off a free kick —his second of the nationals tournament.

On the penalties, Hansen-Barkun would get his hands to both shots.

One of UQAM's two penalty goals.
One of UQAM's two penalty goals. File Salomon Micko Benrimoh

Mosher would opt to throw in some of the old faithfuls late in the game to try to get the scoreline back in hand, as striker Kristian Li-Hietanen, veteran central midfielder Phagura and set play specialist, Canada West player of the year and rookie of the year Tommy Gardner all made their appearance.

With more of the usual suspects back in the roster, UBC settled back into their quick, creative game and momentum swayed in their favour with 20 minutes to spare.

Another Guilherme set play header roused the fans in the 70th, though it would swing just wide of the left post.

In the 87th minute, UBC’s tournament so far would be summed up perfectly with the ref issuing an unfortunate red card to Gardner. From there, the game would take a quick downhill turn, ending in a rough challenge from UBC’s Nick Fussell, some pushing and shoving and a red card for both Fussell and UQAM’s Andre Bona.

Things couldn’t end fast enough in a game, and tournament so far, that UBC will likely hope to leave well in their past.

"We could've played better, could've changed the game on our own, but stuff happens, you get on with it," Phagura said.

UBC and UQAM's discussions get heated.
UBC and UQAM's discussions get heated. FIle Salomon Micko Benrimoh

Though the game may not have reflected their season in terms of results, for Phagura it did reflect the team atmosphere they have fostered.

"It's been a good group, we've been tight-knit and we showed it until the last minute. It got a little chippy and everyone had each other's back and we fought. It's hard to play in a game like this, a consolation game, but we did the best we could and I'm proud of the boys."

~ With files from Scott Young

Game E: Lions’ lone goal sends Reds packing in consolation semi

By Sherwyn Kalyan

The first consolation semifinal of the U Sports Men’s Soccer Nationals saw the York Lions score a single goal against the the University of North Brunswick Reds, and it was enough to see the Lions through to the fifth-place match.

The Lions played with an extremely organized structure that allowed them to dominate possession straight from kick-off. Throughout the entire first half, the Reds sat back and only really attacked on the counter.

Although the less dominant team in the first half, the Reds saw their fair of chances come from Dan Walker, who curled the ball over the top right corner on one occasion and shot it wide in the bottom left shortly after.

The lone goal of the game came late in the first half as York’s Faisal Al-Hamdan lobbed the ball over a scrambling Reds back line and found teammate Chris Jacavau. The striker fended off his marker to neatly flick the ball over the Reds’ goalkeeper.

The Reds came out more determined in the second, changing the dynamic of the game as they now dominated possession and forced the Lions to sit back. The New Brunswick side looked their strongest from the wings as Tristan Nkoghe, Luis Garcia and Jake Martin continued to seek out their strikers with crosses from both flanks. Their build-up plays lacked final execution though, keeping them off the scoreboard.

UNB were dealt a blow as Tristan Nkoghe — arguably their most threatening player of the night — had to be taken off the field with an injury midway through the half, swaying momentum in York’s favour.

While the Lions defense held the Reds attack at bay, their offense came back to life upfield. They had an opportunity to pull another one over the Reds as Maurizio Ragone found the ball behind the Reds defense before the assistant referee flagged him offside.

The last 10 minutes of the game saw a great deal of ping pong play as both teams found themselves shifting from attack to defense in a matter of seconds. The Reds pulled out all the stops to salvage a goal, but their corners and free kicks landed safely in the hands of the Lions’ goalkeeper, leaving the score untouched at 1-0 in the Lions’ favour.

Both teams rotated their squad throughout the afternoon, having already lost their shot at the nationals title.

“It was good to get some guys who don’t play as much into the lineup, they earned some more playing time and that’s important for us to move on with our program and see what they can offer,” said Lions head coach Carmen Isacco post-game.

The Lions will now play the winner of the second consolation semifinal in hope of clinching fifth place.

Game D: Thunderbirds' men's soccer are hurting on home soil after loss to Carleton Ravens in national quarterfinals

By Brendan Smith

UBC's Zach Verhoven thinks back on a missed chance.
UBC's Zach Verhoven thinks back on a missed chance. File Ryan Neale

In the nightcap of the men’s soccer national championships quarterfinals, it was the Carleton Ravens that outlasted the Canada West champion UBC Thunderbirds, winning 3-2 in extra time.

In front of a strong contingent of UBC fans, the Thunderbirds were the team that came out flying.

T-birds striker Kristian Yli-Hietanen appeared to score the game’s first goal in the 14th minute, but it was disallowed due to an offside call. The play of Carleton goalkeeper Nick Jeffs also stymied the Thunderbirds attack for much of the first half, spoiling an otherwise dominant start by the hosts.

With the score tied 0-0, both teams went into the intermission needing adjustments to break the deadlock in the second half.

It was finally broken in the 74th minute on a beautiful strike from outside the box by Carleton’s Gabriel Bitar that beat the outstretched arms of UBC goalkeeper Jason Roberts.

Despite outshooting the Ravens, the Thunderbirds weren’t able to solve Jeffs — with the game nearing stoppage time, they were in search of answers. They found one in the 84th minute courtesy of second-half substitute Mackenzie Cole, who finished off a UBC corner kick.

Both teams exchanged scoring chances at the end of regulation, but neither were able to get the ball in the net and the game went into extra time.

Carleton celebrates their win.
Carleton celebrates their win. File Salomon Micko Benrimoh

After gaining momentum in the second half, the Ravens started to seize control in the extra frame. In the second minute of extra time, Carleton’s Christopher Malekos headed home a corner, putting the OUA finalists ahead once again. Bitar then made it 3-1 with his second goal of the game just before the end of the first half of extra time, silencing the crowd at Thunderbird Stadium.

In the second half of extra time, the Thunderbirds were able to cut the lead to one on an unassisted goal by Connor Guilherme, but were unable to find an equalizer.

After the game, Carleton coach Kwesi Loney expressed how proud he was of his team for adapting to the hostile environment, as well as his team's poise to withstand the initial pressure put on by the Thunderbirds.

“Mosher and his team are an incredible side. [They’re a] very tough team to play against, and we knew that coming into this game. We knew that it was going to be a battle from the beginning. We knew how to prepare for it, it was just a matter of weathering the storm and taking our chances,” Loney said afterwards.

Loney also spoke highly of his forward Gabriel Bitar.

“We knew that if we were going to have a shot today, Gabriel would have to play a real good game for us. And we know that he’s very clinical in his opportunities when [he] has them. We knew it was going to come, it was just a matter of whether he was ready for the moment,” Loney said of his star.

With the win, Carleton will move on to the semifinals, where they will face the reigning national champions, the Cape Breton Capers. The Capers defeated the UQAM Citadins in the earlier quarterfinal matchup.

The Thunderbirds will play the Citadins on the consolation side of the bracket for fifth through eighth place.

Game C: Reigning nationals champions Cape Breton claim late winner over UQAM, earn semifinal berth

By Lucy Fox

It may not have been as exciting as previous games today, but reigning national champions the Cape Breton Capers pulled out some last minute heroics — albeit with a little bit of luck — to secure a 1-0 win over the Université de Quebec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins and move on to to the national semifinals.

Not unlike the first game this morning between the York Lions and the Trinity Western Spartans, the UQAM and Cape Breton matchup got off to a slow start.

UQAM and Cape Breton battle for the ball.
UQAM and Cape Breton battle for the ball. Ryan Neale

Through the first half, the Capers seemed to have slightly more control over the match. Their time on the ball granted them perhaps the only heart-stopping chance of the initial 45, as a cut-back and pass from a Cape Breton teammate on the base line put #11 on top of a clean shot to goal. In the foray in front of the net, the shot wouldn’t make it far enough as it soared over the crossbar for a corner kick — they wouldn’t prevail on the ensuing set play either.

The second again brought more sustained pressure for the Capers, though UQAM started to find more quick breaks as the attacking push for both sides began. With that, an elevated feistiness to the game crept in. Lots of fouls called, but none that proved fruitful for either side.

It would take 80 minutes until the game would see its first goal, as Cape Breton’s Caelann Budhoo was taken down in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Midfielder Markus Campanile converted for the Atlantic team to make it 1-0.

In the 88th, a second yellow for UQAM defender Janouk Charbonneau would see the Montreal side go down a man to see out the game. With a lacklustre performance on attack from the side all game, the lost man only added salt to the wound. Though UQAM defender André Bona would try for some last-minute heroics, Capers keeper would Ben Jackson get his palms to the ball and put it out to safety.

UQAM players make their point to the ref.
UQAM players make their point to the ref. Ryan Neale

With the final whistle, the reigning national champions would scrape through the feisty Eastern match-up and into the semis with a 1-0 win.

"I thought we played really well, first half I thought we controlled it, [we] had a lot of possession. Same with the second half — we were fighting for that goal and then we got it through the penalty and then held on and then they get a bit scrappy at the end," Cape Breton head coach Deano Morley said post-game of his teams performance.

The team now awaits the winner of UBC's first game against the Carleton Ravens to solidify their semifinal opponent — though Morley says the team is prepared for whoever they face.

"We believe in ourselves, we never analyze other teams too much, we believe in ourselves and our abilities."

~ With files from Scott Young

Game B: Carabins coast into national semis with Lajoie-Gravelle hat trick performance

By James Vogl

Carabins keeper Felix Goulet makes a save.
Carabins keeper Felix Goulet makes a save. Ryan Neale

In the second of the initial match-ups of nationals weekend, the Université de Montréal (UM) Carabins notched a 3-0 victory this afternoon against the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Varsity Reds, sealing their semifinal spot.

The Carabins played an aggressive, offensive game right out of the gate, spending the majority of the first half on the attack. While the Reds were able to engineer a brief series of counter-attacks midway through the first half, they spent most of the first 45 minutes warding off sustained pressure from the Carabins’s front line.

The UNB defense looked solid initially, disrupting many of UM's opportunities, including an impressive save off a cross in the 15th minute by UNB keeper Evan Barker. Eventually however, the tenacious Carabins offence caught up to them, with striker Frédéric Lajoie-Gravelle scoring UM’s first goal in the 31st minute.

At the beginning of the second half, it initially appeared that the Reds offence had found new life as they came out aggressively with a series of attacks, including a clean try by UNB striker Dan Walker in the 50th minute.

UM quickly regained the offensive initiative, however, roaring back with another goal by Lajoie-Gravelle on a rebound in the 64th minute. A little more than 10 minutes later, Lajoie-Gravelle floated in a third goal on the run. He would retire from the game for the night after scoring the hat trick.

Carabin Pierre Lamothe takes on UNB's Matt Boem.
Carabin Pierre Lamothe takes on UNB's Matt Boem. Ryan Neale

On the whole, while UNB had a solid defensive showing early on, they struggled to get their offence rolling, despite a handful of opportunities set up by Reds captain and striker Ben Gorringe.

The UM forward line, on the other hand, made excellent use of space and moved the ball well, stretching the UNB defence to their limit. Their back line also played an effective and physical game, ensuring that UNB had to work for every opportunity they got.

While the Carabins had a strong offensive showing all around, the indisputable stand-out was Lajoie-Gravelle. He was effective at controlling the offensive tempo and setting up many of the early UM opportunities — his hat trick this afternoon speaks for itself.

“We had a game plan, we wanted to use the space,” Lajoie-Gravelle said post-game. “It was key for us to use space, use our speed and control the game, and that’s what we did.”

UM head coach Pat Raimondo emphasized the need to focus on the Carabins’ defence going into their semifinal game. “We still have to get used to it in terms of defending this amount of space,” he said. “We’ve got to get ready for Trinity because they’ll be full value tomorrow.”

Game A: Trinity Western tops York Lions in quarterfinal set play showdown

By Scott Young and Lucy Fox

Christian Cavallini protects the ball for York.
Christian Cavallini protects the ball for York. Zubair Hirji

In the opening match of the 2018 U Sports men’s soccer championships, it was a battle of set plays between the York Lions and Trinity Western Spartans — a battle the Spartans would eventually win 4-2 on penalties.

Throughout the first, the Spartans showcased speed and creativity through the centre of the park, king-pinned by central midfielder and team captain Joel Waterman. Though the Lions were generally organized and held a tight defensive line, they played the majority of the half trying to keep up with ball’s movement across the park.

That said, Trinity struggled in the final third, causing no great concern for York keeper Mike Argyrides.

Though both sides would get a few chances in the first, they would head to the dressing rooms tied 0-0 at the half.

Entering the second, the Spartans would go up one early off a beautiful curling corner from Leighton Johnson that snuck inside the far post, stunning York’s back line. Adding to the Lions difficulties, an ill-advised tackle from Steve Kloutsouniotis earned a straight red card and put the Ontario side a man down with over 30 left to play.

Trinity would net another off a corner slotted in the 61st minute as defender Noah Kroeker sent the ball past a sprawling Argyrides.

"I didn’t think Leighton's was going to go directly in, but hey a piece of brilliance from him and we’ll take it. And another set piece goal and you’re cruising at two," Trinity head coach Mike Shearon said post-game.

That said, Shearon acknowledged the work put in by the OUA side.

"I thought the red card actually woke them up a bit, we might have cruised if that didn’t happen."

Despite being down two goals and a man, the Lions would keep pushing forward, forcing a Kroeker tackle inside the box for a York penalty shot. Christian Cavallini made no mistake cutting the Trinity lead in half.

The Lions would complete the comeback in the 73rd minute, as Cavallini would arch a headed cross past Trinity keeper Sebastian Colyn. With the final whistle in regular time, it was tied 2-2.

Overtime held the Spartans and Lions to a 2-2 stalemate, with Trinity having the majority of the pressure in the extra frame — it would take a penalty shootout to break the deadlock.

The Spartans would go up one after the first round of shots and in the next two rounds all balls would find the inside netting. In the 4th round, Trinity's shot for the win rang off the underside of the crossbar and appeared to cross the goal line but was denied by the ref, giving York one last shot at redemption — they wouldn’t capitalize as their final shooter couldn’t convert.

"They are a number one team in the country, lots of pride on their side and they fought back," Shearon said. "All credit to them to get the second one and going down to kicks and having to figure it out ... that was awesome."

With the upset over the Ontario University Athletic’s top dog, the York Lions, Trinity moves on to the semifinals on Friday. They will face either the Montreal Carabins.

For Shearon, the win is another step in the right direction for his Canada West side.

"We have been through a lot of different stuff all season. We have been prepared for this very moment today, whatever was going to happen we were prepared for it."