The Humber Hawks men’s varsity soccer team claimed their first CCAA National title in 11 years, defeating the Vancouver Island University Mariners 7-6 in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw in regulation time.
Hawk goals from Daniel Braga and Matthew Rios forced extra time after being thoroughly dominated for large portions of the championship game.
Hawks assistant coach Mike Aquino hailed the Mariners performance, saying they were a worthy opponent.
“VIU played a great game. One that tested our teams mental and physical abilities for most of the match,” Aquino said.
Humber were unable to get control of the game, they were being outworked in the midfield and the Mariners were first to every ball.
“Ultimately, I think we were able to stay composed throughout the entire game and with a little luck we were crowned National Champions,” Aquino said.
VIU coach Bill Merriman felt his team controlled the tempo of the game but were unable to put away their chances.
“As a coach I am very happy with my team’s performance as they played with a lot of character and heart throughout the tournament,” Merriman said.
“From the comments we have received since the finals, the fifth-year players and the players staying can be very proud to know that people right across the country know they are a ‘team’.”
Merriman praised the Hawks resilient defending after striker Marcos Nunes was sent off for receiving a second yellow card.
“I think Humber showed that they’re a very disciplined team on the field and they did well to keep their shape. They battled very hard and were dangerous throughout the game.”
Hawks assistant coach Jason Mesa said his side did what was required to bring the game to penalty kicks.
“Our ability to defend has been our strong suit all season long and once again our backline and goalkeeper stood tall in the finals,” Mesa said.
In the eighth round of the shootout, first-year Hawks goalkeeper Eugenio Garro made a fantastic save, before midfielder Yousif Yousif calmly converted the winner.
“As soon as I knew it was me taking that kick, I was thinking about Marcelo (Capozollo), I was thinking about Berto (Roberto Galle), I was thinking about (assistant coach Jason) Mesa, I was thinking about everybody. I couldn’t miss, I had to bury that,” said Yousif.
Despite not being at their best, the Hawks were organized, disciplined and they showed a lot of character.
In the preliminary round the Hawks slipped past College Francois-Xavier Garneau 2-0 and cruised to a 3-0 victory over OCAA rivals the Seneca Sting in the semifinals.
The Hawks triumph marks the first time an Ontario team won the national title since 2009.
“This team is one of the best group of players I’ve had, they were a family on the field and they all battled and supported one another. They’re a special group of players,” said Mesa.