Bold, Marauders approaching CPL-lacking OUA MSOC Final

TORONTO, ON – For the first time since 2013, the TMU Bold are looking to win an OUA men’s soccer championship when they welcome the upstart McMaster Maraduers for the conference final on Saturday night. 

Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm ET at Downsview Park in North York, Ontario. 

Since Filip Prostran took over the program in 2014, the Bold had only made it as far as the OUA semifinals, often tripping up against equal or inferior opponents and missing out on a chance to play for a trophy. 

This year, the Bold defeated the Carleton Ravens in the quarter-final and the Waterloo Warriors in the semifinal after Waterloo had previously upset the U SPORTS #1 York Lions, 3-1. While the semifinal took nearly three hours to play due to heavy fog, the Bold pushed through and punched their ticket to the final as hosts. 

On the back-off well-taken goals from Justin Santos and Tristan Marshall, the Bold cruised past the Warriors en route to the final.

 “Just really happy for the guys,” Prostran told Bold Athletics after the semifinal win. “It was a really special moment for the seniors who have been through the heartache in the final four in past years.”

McMaster riding a high after beating Guelph

(McMaster Marauders)

An hour down the road, the McMaster Marauders booked their spot in the OUA final with a 2-1 upset quarter-final win against the defending champion Guelph Gryphons and a swift 3-1 beatdown of the Nipissing Lakers. 

While an 8-3-1 record in conference play doesn’t jump off the page for McMaster, their playoff form, led by Miles Green, has been impeccable. Green, who scored six goals and two assists in 10 matches with McMaster, netted twice in the Nipissing match and enters the final beaming with confidence. 

For all McMaster’s players, 2022 is the first time they have reached such a stage in university soccer, playing for a title and a national championship. Yet, their gaffer on the sidelines, Chris  Markou, has been in the situation before, winning the OUAA title in 1992. 

“We defend our set pieces, and we attack our set pieces with a bit of ferocity and a willingness to win and sacrifice for each other,” Markou told 49 Sports of his team’s strategy against Nipissing. “I want them to reflect on this game 10, 15 years from now, and I wanted them to have a positive moment. I think they’ll remember this game forever.”

On Saturday, look for a brewing battle between Green and TMU defender Christian Westlaken, who has been a mainstay at the back all season and may be tasked with shutting down the electric attacker. At the same time, Kai Martin will hold the Bold’s defensive unit tight against McMaster’s strong attackers. 

Both teams will look to settle into the match early, but nerves will likely play a role, with the match presenting the first trophy opportunity in years for both programs. 

Lack of CPL fingerprint

Jacob Carlos is the lone CPL player to be drafted out of the TMU or McMaster programs

When the Canadian Premier League came into play in 2019 and introduced the CPL-U SPORTS Draft, there was an expectation that clubs would select top players from top teams. Yet, as McMaster and TMU meet in the 2022 final, only one player has been drafted to the CPL. 

Winnipeg’s Valour FC selected Jacob Carlos in 2021 and kept him on a developmental contract before signing him to a permanent deal, ending his time with the Bold after just a single season. 

In this match, however, with the showcase of the CBC Sports website and a game near CPL HQ in Toronto, there is a chance athletes could play their way into draft consideration. 

While players such as Martin were on the eligible selection list last season, keep tabs on TMU forward Justin Santos, whose intelligent attacking play led to two goals in the semifinal and was recently selected as an OUA All-Star. Additionally, clubs could find value in a stable centre-back like Westlaken. 

On McMaster, all eyes will be on Green, the 22-year-old forward with previous connections to Forge FC. 

Still, despite the potential prospects vying for a title, the lack of CPL picks between the two teams over the league’s history is intriguing. 

However, Saturday evening unfolds, both the Bold and the Maraduers will head to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC next weekend, seeking the U SPORTS National Championship. 

Cover photo: Josh Kim/TMU Bold

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