The Humber Hawks men’s soccer team proved defense wins championships, as they claimed a third consecutive Ontario Colleges Athletic Association title with a 2-0 win over Seneca Sting.
The Hawks displayed why they held the best defensive record in the OCAA as they didn’t concede a goal in the playoffs.
“It came down to consistency, speed and good leadership from the captain and central defender Marcelo Capozzollo,” said Hawks head coach Germain Sanchez.
In the semifinals the Hawks edged out the Sheridan Bruins 1-0, courtesy of a late Marcos Nunes goal. The win earned them a spot in Nationals, but also set up a showdown against Seneca in the finals.
In the gold medal match, goals from Matthew Rios and Aleks Janjic, were enough to secure the title.
After a dull first half, the Hawks were allowed more space as the Seneca players tired. This allowed them to control the tempo of the game and create several goal-scoring opportunities.
“We tried to impose our style that was so successful this season, we kept the ball on the ground, used the wing to stretch the game, and patiently waited for our opportunities,” Sanchez said.
“Seneca is a very good team, but we did a great job closing them down quickly which is why they couldn’t get any shots in our third of the field.”
Humber’s defense had an easy time recording their eighth clean sheet of the season, as Seneca lacked cohesion when attacking.
Hawks keeper Eugenio Garro feels his side was dominant on the ball for large portions of the game, making it hard for Seneca to find its rhythm.
“Our passes were quick and precise which is why they had trouble keeping possession of the ball,” Garro said.
Although Humber dominated the second half, Seneca’s tight defensive formation was coping with the pressure, and ultimately it took two moments of intense and inspired effort from the Hawks to separate the sides.
“We had a few chances in the game to score and our clinical finishing was the difference maker,” Garro said.
Seneca defender Joe Amato believes his side played a good game, but they could’ve been better going forward.
“We didn’t attack with numbers and pace, the play would always slow down when it passed half which allowed Humber to get numbers behind the ball,” Amato said.
The Sting entered the finals with 14 first year players, and Amato felt Humber’s experience played to their advantage.
“Humber played a great game, they defended well, had multiple attacking threats, and their experience in big games was vital,” Amato said. “Humber has a lot of great individual players that can change the game and all it took was one small mental lapse and they punished us.”
Humber and Seneca will both travel to New Westminster, B.C., where they’ll represent Ontario at the CCAA Nationals Nov. 7 to 10.
The Hawks are aiming to win their first gold medal for men’s soccer at Nationals since 2001.