The Carleton Ravens have had a memorable season already. They captured the OUA title for the first time since 2006, and boast a roster that could legitimately challenge for the national title.
While the ravens failed to beat out the york lions in the regular season, the OUA final was a different story. At no point during the final match did the ravens look like a team who were going to settle for a silver medal.
Settle they did not, as they trampled the York lions 3-0 on their home pitch. Through 14 regular-season games, they only dropped one, putting them a mere three points behind the York Lions.
Stefan Karajovanovic is one of two key players for the ravens. Him, alongside Gabriel Bitar are a force to be reconded with, as well as two players who will want to putt heir best foot forward for the onlooking Canadian Premier League final. OUA MVP Dario Conte did not exactly light up the scoreboard, but his contributions to the team were invaluable, hence his season-ending award.
Carleton was eliminated in the semi-finals of last year’s championships on the west coast, and they will be determined to do much better this year in Montreal this year. Their first match pits them against the St.FX X-men, who are making their third straight U Sports championship appearance.
The other team from the OUA is the York Lions, who march into CEPSUM stadium with a chip on their shoulder and a silver medal around their neck. Their attempt at making it three consecutive OUA championships was fouled by the aforementioned Carleton Ravens.
Despite not capturing the OUA crown, they do still have a very strong team, one that could challenge for the national title. Given that they lost their 52 game OUA unbeaten streak in the finals loss, they are going to be the most motivated team at the tournament.
The LIons not only dominated their OUA competition but were a constant comparison to the rest of the country. With a goal differential of +39, they bested any other team from coast to coast, with the next best being five goals behind.
Not only was their offence potent, but their defensive core was sound. Of their 14 regular-season games, 12 of them were clean sheets. Yet another U Sports best.
It is hard to pick a single player to focus on for the Lions, but if we have to highlight one it would be Omar Marzouck. The North York native won the OUA’s golden boot with his 16 goals, seven ahead of the next best player.
York dominates possession throughout the game, allowing Marzouck to get himself into better positions for passes. Countless time this season Marzouck would find a hole between the two central defenders and a midfielder, get the ball in that space and exploit it for a goal. His “soccer smarts” are well above any other attacker that his team has to offer, which is surprising because he had never played int he professional ranks, rather joining the Lions immediately following his high school career.
York will be the last of two teams to play their quarterfinal, as they take on the home team, the University of Montreal Carabin at 7:00.
Both the Carleton ravens and the York Lions are very strong teams and will be some of the favourites at the tournament this week. Success for both teams would not be met unless they are raising the trophy on the final day. On paper, both sides should make it through their quarter-final matches, but the game is played on the field for 90 minutes, not on the lineup card.