X-Men halt Capers pursuit of AUS soccer history
SYDNEY,NS – For the first time since 1994, the STFX X-Men are at the top of the conference mountain, after capturing the 2023 Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Men's Soccer Championship – presented by Bell – with a 2-0 shutout victory over the rival Cape Breton University (CBU) Capers on Sunday evening at Ness Timmons Field.
It is the first AUS banner for the White and Blue since the program collected consecutive titles – in 1993 and 1994 – under legendary head coach Lou Bilek.
Early in the match, on an ensuing penalty kick after he was hauled down in the 18-yard box, veteran Charlie Waters (Blackpool, England) made no mistake for the X-Men, giving the visitors a 1-0 edge in the eighth minute.
First-year Caper Sebastian Cochrane (Toronto, ON) helped create an initial opportunity for his team, but he couldn't connect with Jacob Spizzirri (Woodbridge, ON).
In the 17th minute, CBU's Rain Lyn (Oakville, ON) put a Cochrane corner kick over the crossbar.
Three minutes later, AUS most valuable player Kyle Cordeiro (Oakville, ON) – who was named the top performer in the men's tournament – found an open Waters, but Caper defender Ben Fortuin (Maidenhead, England) made a top notch sliding defensive play to prevent a quality scoring chance.
In the 27th minute, Spizzirri – the Caper player of the match – tested X-Men keeper Sam Diltz (Newmarket, ON), who made the stop.
A short time later, Waters found the dynamic Dyan Vil (Ottawa, ON), who laced a strike high and wide.
The X-Men took a 1-0 lead to the locker room.
Early in the second half, in the 50th minute, CBU striker Owen Sheppard (St. John's, NL) – an AUS first-team all-star and the conference's leading scorer in the regular season – had an opportunity to challenge Diltz, but X-Men defender Jack Kennedy (Antigonish, NS) forced him to take a sharp angle attempt.
In the 58th minute, STFX tried to double their lead, with Samuel Barrowcliffe (Princeton, ON, starting a passing play with Cordeiro and Waters, but CBU keeper Daniel Clarke – the AUS first-team all-star keeper – made the stop.
While trying to rally, the Capers ended up down one player – with a red card to Max Piepgrass (Calgary, AB) – and then three by the end of the match, with Elijah Le (Vaughan, ON) and Zé Cunha (Cascais, Portugal) also getting red cards.
CBU, the six-time defending champions, were unable to mount much of a comeback – especially once shorthanded – but there were a couple of opportunities, including a strike from Jamie Nicholson (North Petherton, UK) that sailed wide of the left post behind Diltz.
In the late going, the X-Men had a chance to add an insurance marker, but Clarke stoned Logan Rieck (Cambridge, ON) on a penalty shot to keep the Capers within one goal.
A short time later, in the 89th minute, STFX sealed the deal on a goal from freshman forward Myroslav Zastavnyy (Toronto, ON) to make it 2-0.
An exemplary defensive effort from the White and Blue kept the vaunted Capers' offense bottled up throughout the match.
The AUS receives two berths in the 2023 USPORTS Men's Soccer Championship – hosted by Cape Breton University Athletics – from Nov. 9 to 12, so both sides will return to the turf at Ness Timmons Field in a couple of weeks to vie for a national title.
For more information on the USPORTS championship at CBU, visit https://usports.ca/en/championships/soccer/m
Recap courtesy Corey LeBlanc
STFX midfielder Kyle Cordeiro receives the AUS playoff MVP award from AUS Soccer Sport Chair Scott Gray