It was a very exciting week to be a soccer fan at Western as both the men’s and women’s soccer teams clinched a spot in the Ontario University Athletics final four.
The men’s team kicked off the weekend with a dramatic upset over the Guelph Gryphons, defeating them in a shootout.
The Gryphons came out strong, keeping possession of the ball and controlling the majority of the game. Although they were putting pressure on the Mustangs, Western was able to fight back for the full 90 minutes, keeping the score at 0–0.
Both teams kept the pressure up going into extra-time, stopping each other from getting on the board. The game went to a shoot-out tied 0–0.
Striker Lucas Ventura managed to find the back of the net in the eighth round of the shootout, giving Western the one goal lead and, ultimately, winning the game. The win brought Guelph’s season to a close and advanced Western to the final four.
“I thought they did really well. Our organization was good. I thought we did really well in a lot of situations. We worked hard and we executed when it came to penalties,” said Mustangs head coach Martin Painter. “It was a really hard fought battle, and Guelph’s a good team, but a lot of our guys stepped up.”
The Mustangs women also hit the field on Sunday as they set out to Toronto to face off against the York Lions.
Western went into the game with momentum following their overtime win against the Golden Hawks. The team used this to their advantage and defeated the Lions 3–2.
“York is a very strong team, over the second half of the season, probably the strongest team in our division," said Painter, who coaches both the men's and women's teams. "It was a very difficult game and we did really well. We were able to cause a couple mistakes and score a couple good goals.”
It was a very back and forth game between the two teams, with each side taking turns with possession and displaying dominance. York came out strong whenever they gained possession, achieving more than twice as many shots on goal than Western.
“It was a weird game in terms of who dictated the momentum. First 30 minutes were great, on top. We got two in, and were in control,” said Painter. “And then once they got the ball, momentum switched back to them, and they were able to tie it up. We got our third goal, and I think we held on pretty comfortably for the last 20 minutes.”
Katrina Giantsopolous was on point, scoring two of the three goals for the purple and white. But the offence was not the only force that won Western the game: goalkeeper Megan Girardi was the unsung hero of the game, stopping eight shots on goal, giving York a serious run for their money.
The men’s team hits the road today to take on the Carleton Ravens in Ottawa at 3 p.m. kick-off. The women’s will also be facing off against Queen's Gaels today on Mustangs Field at 7 p.m.